Inside the Agency: FBI's use-of-force training - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Inside the Agency: FBI's use-of-force training

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Chris McInnes, the principal firearms instructor for the FBI field office in Las Vegas, goes through the agency's training with FOX5 anchor John Huck. (FOX5) Chris McInnes, the principal firearms instructor for the FBI field office in Las Vegas, goes through the agency's training with FOX5 anchor John Huck. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

The use of deadly force continues to be a critical issue involving law enforcement. In high profile incidents that end with officers pulling the trigger, observers point at whether the use of force was justified.

In Las Vegas, law enforcement make it a point to be transparent with fact-finding panels examining the details after a use-of-force police shooting.

At the heart of the incidents, though, is the training, which mainly concerns whether a threat can be identified and if use of force is justified.

The rigors of that training is exhibited in the FBI's Firearms Training System, or "FATS". Under the program, agents are presented with multiple simulator-based scenarios, all based on past cases.

According to Chris McInnes, principal firearms instructor for the FBI field office in Las Vegas, each agent's action must be grounded in the bureau's deadly force policy.

"If you can articulate the imminent threat of death or serious injury to the officer or another person, then you're justified," McInnes pointed out in a training simulation with FOX5's John Huck.

These scenarios range from common situations that have been previously covered in the media: school shootings, hostage situations and bank robberies.

While some of the situations make the threat clear to the trainee, other scenarios exhibit things that can throw off an agent.

For example, in the bank robbery scenario, John Huck opened fire on what he perceived as the main threat when there were other people to consider. 

"It's not all about shooting," McInnes pointed out in this scenario. "It's about, many times, not shooting, because it's the safer course of action for the people around you. You had a lot of innocent bystanders."

Huck admitted, "I didn't even consider the teller or even the bank customers. I only considered I needed to kill the guy."

In the simulation, the main threat was neutralized, but an accomplice went undetected.

According to McInnes, this was classified as "tunnel vision", which is common.

Special Agent-in-Charge Aaron Rouse said FATS should help agents develop a muscle memory to instinctively inform them when to respond or not respond. He also believes it's one reason why the Las Vegas office hasn't lost an agent since 1996.

"What we try to do with our training and the scenarios we put forth through FATS is encourage the agents to think broadly," Rouse said. "More broadly, to look for what else is going on with the situation."

In response to the ongoing criticism over police shooting, Rouse hopes to invite those people to go through the FATS program.

Written by John Huck

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