PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The topic of split second decisions for whether police should shoot a dangerous suspect is a touchy one nationwide, and especially in Portsmouth. The city just endured the trial for former officer Stephen Rankin.
On Friday, Portsmouth police officers allowed 10 On Your Side to see how officers train for deadly force scenarios.
“We are going to try to get your heart rate up,” said Sergeant Scott Blystone. “You’re going to end up getting into a gun fight and the best way to train for it try is to simulate as best as physically possible.”
10 On Your Side was given a gun with plastic bullets. We first took aim at a target and then that followed by lap around the training academy building.
“Everything is ready to go,” Blyston added. “It is locked and loaded.”
The idea is speed up the heart rate, raise the stress and then fire again to show how that influences the shots.
10 On Your Side also went through a real life scenario looking for a guy who just shot someone. Jason Marks says he never saw the suspect with the gun until it was too late. The suspect got off the first shot.
“I thought I was dead,” Marks said. “I never saw the gun and it looked like it was pointed right at me.”
The next scenario was just as tough. It involved a woman who with a knife who was robbing a business. 10 On Your Side demanded she put down the knife, but she was able to get too close to Marks before he was able to shoot.
“I think it’s just a matter of not knowing what to do,” Marks said.
“We are human beings,” Blyston said. “We make choices and we have to live with those choices at the end of the day.”
Police say they never want to harm anyone, but sometimes there is no choice.
“We don’t have the time to think about what we are going to do,” Blystone added. “We have to make a decision immediately.”