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WKYT Investigates | A look inside Lexington police training

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 6:26 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Recent Black Lives Matter protests have inspired the Lexington Police Department to take a closer look at recruit training.

During the department’s training academy, recruits spend 32 weeks enhancing their fitness and learning about making the best decisions when responding to calls and when to use force.

“It’s hard to explain in a brief amount of time how we teach the recruits to apply that, but it is not a step scale,” said Sgt. Kevin Kidd, a trainer with the academy.

He explained that situations can escalate quickly. Trainers try to prepare recruits by putting them in front of a simulator.

The simulator features various scenarios recruits may encounter in the field such as a car crash or a domestic dispute. Recruits are supposed to put their training into action by giving verbal commands or using the devices on their utility belts - a flashlight, taser, pepper spray, and handgun.

Trainers can change the simulator based on how well they think the recruit is deescalating the situation. For instance, a trainer can make a character in the simulator comply with the recruit’s orders, or not comply by pulling a firearm.

“We always say the best way to resolve conflict is to start talking,” Kidd said.

He explained LPD is training recruits to form better relationships with the community following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Charles Davis, who is African American, joined the academy in January. He said he wanted to become a police officer after seeing few officers who looked like him while growing up in Eastern Kentucky.

“You know people preach on being the change you wish to see,” Davis said.

Kidd explained the department hopes to build a better relationship with the Lexington community by training their officers on diversity and recruiting more officers of color. While he said the department could not comment on cases involving other agencies, he said the department is learning from cases like that of George Floyd.

“I think what any agency should take away is, are you willing to do self-evaluation of and open be to what our community needs might be? I would tell you that I believe our agency is,” Kidd said.

He explained that public safety depends not only on training, but the men and women sworn to uphold it.

“Again, you have to look at us as human beings, we’re not superhuman, we’re human beings,” Kidd said.

Twenty-five recruits graduated from LPD’s training academy in September. They will spend 15 weeks with field training officer before they patrol the streets on their own.

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