GREAT FALLS — The latest session of the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy covered the use of force. Class members went though some of the same training techniques as new deputies and detention officers.
For some of the class members, it meant stepping out of the comfort zone as they were voluntarily getting Tased. It’s similar to what new employees go through. ”Now we start tasing a live cartridge at all of our new employees because if they do have to Tase somebody, they know what it feels like and they can articulate why they Tased somebody,” said Lieutenant Landon Koteskey with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.
For the members of the Citizens’ Academy who chose to be Tased, they are not shot with the probes of a live cartridge. Instead, the electricity is conducted via alligator clips placed on the body connected to cables attached to the Taser. A properly- applied Taser blast will incapacitate a subject for five seconds.
”We do attempt to try to de-escalate when possible, but sometime that just doesn’t happen,” said Koteskey. “You have a very belligerent person that’s trying to fight with you and sometimes a taser is the only option you have to control the situation and get them handcuffed and taken to jail if need be.”
While students in this Citizens’ Academy didn’t get to practice at the firing range, they did learn about firearms safety and lethal force situations.
The academy members are put through scenarios through a program called “Laser Shot” in which they encounter suspects and determine whether lethal force should be used. ”Know that your law enforcement in Cascade County, we strive for the best level of training that we can in the areas of use of force,” said Koteskey. “Whether that be taser or firearms. We do what we can to be sure citizens are well protected.”
In an age where use of force among law enforcement is greatly scrutinized, Koteskey says it’s important to remember most officers are using the training they’ve been given to do the best job they can. “Before you hear the phrase in the news about police officers and what they’ve done, wait until all the facts are gathered,” said Koteskey.
Students in the class were also briefed by the County Attorney on Montana’s justifiable use of force laws and the state’s conceal-carry regulations.
CASCADE COUNTY CITIZENS' ACADEMY: