May 26, 2021 - News

How Colorado police departments have adjusted their training since George Floyd's death

Police officers pepper spray a person near the Colorado State Capitol during George Floyd protests last May in Denver. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Police departments in Colorado and across America have made moves toward better training since George Floyd’s murder — but experts say it could take years to have enough impact to prevent more needless deaths of people of color.

Zoom in: Law enforcement agencies in Colorado have adopted new strategies designed to avoid the use of force and address implicit biases in various ways.

  • In Denver, police are implementing crowd management training for any officer that could be put on the line amid civil unrest, including detectives, for the first time since 2008, division chief Joe Montoya told Axios.
  • In Colorado Springs, the police academy is no longer teaching recruits neck restraints, spokesperson Natashia Kerr said.
  • In Aurora, training has shifted from "paramilitary style" to a more academic focus that features community members who shed light on their culture and experiences with police. APD has also doubled its scenario-based training, according to division chief Chris Juul.

Zoom out: The state Department of Law’s Criminal Justice Division is exploring new ways to train all of Colorado’s 14,000 police officers to make better decisions amid high-pressure situations, Fox31 reports.

  • The agency issued a request for proposals last month to kickstart a two-year, statewide "Ethical Decision-making Under Stress" training.

Between the lines: Even if every police department in the country adopted newer training techniques, experts say there's not a lot of evidence yet that they change officers' behavior.

  • "The problem has been, there are no national standards to show what the training should look like," Frank Straub, an expert on police training at the National Police Foundation, told Axios’ David Nather.
  • That leaves a patchwork of departments navigating new territory on their own.

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