Ferguson incident raises questions about officer training nationwide

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Another protest and memorial are planned for Friday night in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed teenager was gunned down by a police officer two weeks ago.

The military presence is dwindling in Ferguson, as National Guard troops who were called in Monday to protect a police command center are clearing out, following two straight nights of peaceful protest.

The St. Louis suburb has been on edge ever since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

Brown's parents say they want the current prosecutor removed from the case, due to his close relationships with the police community, and they want the officer arrested.

The incident has raised questions nationwide into how officers are trained to use their weapons in situations like this one.

Newschannel 3 spent the day with the Kellogg Community College police academy, to see how they're training their new recruits, and the Police Academy manager set up a simulation to show just how fast you need to react to a threat.

Rob Miller says he understands the situations firsthand, having been involved in three officer-involved shootings over his years with the Battle Creek Police.

That incluces one where he nearly lost his life.

"I was shot in the face during a barricaded gunamn incident on Frisbie Street; I spent 5 days in the trauma unit, I was off work for six months," he said. "I have hearing loss, I have tinnitus, I have vertigo because of the incident."

Miller explained that the 24 new recruits starting this fall at KCC will learn just how fast they need to react to a threat.

"If we know that if the first thing that's going to be affected by stress is the hearing, then we give loud, repetitive, verbal commands, so that he or she hears us," he said.

He showed an example of an agitated woman weilding a hockey stick, after which he explained that a cadet would be right to choose to taze or shoot the suspect.

"It would be reasonable, because I can articulate why I felt my life was in danger," he said. "If I were to get hit in the head with a hockey stick, I could get seriously knocked out unconscious and then the thought of, well, what if she takes my gun."

The situation in Ferguson will be brought up in class, as well as topics of racial diversity.

"Policing itself is predominantly white male, and there are factors and there are general concerns and they're valid concerns people in a minority neighborhood would have," Miller said.

Cadets who may soon become an officer, or a deputy with a sheriff's office need to understand the culture of the neighborhood they're patrolling, Miller said.

"But every decision I make will affect that person, and the goal is that every decision you make is fair and its unbiased," he said. "Treat people the way you want to be treated."

A spokesperson for Kellogg Community College wants to emphasize that the college has no stance on what is happening right now in Ferguson, Missouri.