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ENC police training instructors react to calls for more police reform

A bill working its way through Congress would aim to ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and end qualified immunity, among other reforms advocates say could save innocent lives.
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 8:02 PM EDT
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DUPLIN COUNTY N.C. (WITN) - Police-involved shootings of African Americans nationwide, including one in Eastern North Carolina, are again sparking calls for reform in law enforcement.

“’How do I put this person in a better position, and at the same time keep myself and the public safe?’” asked Warsaw Police chief Patrick Giddeons, rhetorically. “That’s a challenging task. But, you have to balance that with a sense of humanity and fairness.”

Giddeons is also an instructor for the basic law enforcement training, BLET, at James Sprunt Community College, where he said they have already doubled the number of hours required for mental health and de-escalation training.

“In North Carolina, we have been teaching the skills needed to help officers deal with people who are in moments of crisis for quite some time now,” said Giddeons.

At least in part because of the national conversation, according to Giddeons, Warsaw Police Department recently decided to replace all of their regular bullets in officer’s shotguns with rubber bullets. It eliminates an option for potentially-deadly force, without removing the ability to disable a far-distance threat.

But still, calls for more police reform have infiltrated the national conversation, saying the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is just the beginning. A bill, named after George Floyd, aims to ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and end qualified immunity by denying federal funding to police agencies who continue those practices, among others.

“Most importantly, to stop these tragedies from happening to begin with,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

But Republican opponents say the bill goes one step too far, and want to see it reformed before supporting it.

“That is defunding police in a different way,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). “You talk to good cops all across the country, they say if they’re exposed in that kind of way, they won’t stay in law enforcement.”

The conversation persists, even as we continue to wait to learn more on a deputy-involved shooting here in Eastern North Carolina.

“We’re in a time when our officers need to be doing everything they can to try to work with people in tough times,” said Giddeons.

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