Unnecessary roughness: Do we need to tame police academy training?

Rigid, high-stress police academies may be counterproductive; we need to focus more on the why and less on the how


Police training should be tough. But, if it’s too tough, recruits are lost to resignations, injuries or even death.

A story from Ohio this past week illustrates the potential of the problem. During a dynamic training exercise where recruits were supposed to fight off an instructor who attacks them, six cadets sustained injuries that required transport to a hospital. One had a shoulder dislocation, while the others suffered concussions. Two others reportedly suffered concussions, but were not treated at the hospital.

This incident is not all that different from one at a Virginia police academy in 2011. There, recruit John Kohn was hit in the head repeatedly by an instructor as he lay on his back during a ground-fighting exercise. Kohn stumbled off the mat before he collapsed. He died at a Norfolk hospital nine days later.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD was fined $7,000 by the North Carolina Labor Department after a 2016 incident where a recruit collapsed from heat stress during physical training. The recruit was required to exercise vigorously in July, when temperatures and humidity are high, and while wearing body armor. No water was provided, and breaks were discouraged. Jeremy Moseley, age 29, died from heat injuries.

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