BILLINGS — Veteran law-enforcement officers held a training program in Billings on Friday to help officers statewide in how to handle officer-involved shootings both before, during, and after they occur.
At least three officer-involved shootings have happened in Billings in 2022, which forced dozens of officers to be put on temporary administrative leave. What the officers go through both physically and mentally after the fact are often overlooked.
"What we do is we put on a lecture for the officers trying to explain what happens to them psychologically and physiologically when all of a sudden, they’re thrust into a threatening encounter because your body and mind does change, and you have no control over it," said William Hladky, retired detective with the Miami-Dade Police Department
Hladky and L.G. Russell are both former detectives with the Miami-Dade Police Department and put on Friday's training. The training was focused on the aftermath of violent encounters and how to prepare for them.
"Honestly, preparation is the goal. It’s almost trying to control your mindset to be involved in not just an unexpected attack but the unexpected in general. Things are not going to go the way you think they do. Even if you’ve been trained to handle shootings," said Russell.
In May, 19 officers in Billings were put on a standard administrative leave after they were involved in two separate shootings. That many officers being taken out of the rotation puts an obvious strain on the department and affects it for longer than the present time.
"What will impact the department's work if it's not fully staffed is we can’t send 30 people to training. And that’s somewhat sad because the public says we want highly trained police officers. But studies have shown that a high school football player gets more training in his four years training for a football game then police officer does because there’s just not the resources," added Hladky.
Russell added that preparation for the unexpected increases the odds of making the right decision and staying in sound mental shape after the fact.
"It helps you to be able to think more clearly under pressure. Even if it isn’t a 100%, what we like to call high road thinking because under stress you don’t do high road thinking 100%," said Russell.
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