Recent officer-involved shootings in East Alabama prompt discussion
Sitting in his office Tuesday morning, Heflin Police Chief A.J. Benefield was surrounded by some of his best, discussing a situation they're more familiar with than most.
The topic of the discussion, officer-involved shootings, is defined at the Heflin Police Department as a situation where an officer has a use of force incident in which a firearm is involved.
Benefield explains how it often escalates to that level.
"Basically the suspect dictates the use of force we have to use, up to shooting and using a firearm," he said.
It's a situation these longtime officers know not everyone agrees with, at times even questioning choices made by law enforcement.
"A lot of people think that maybe we could have another option sometimes" Benefield said. "And sometimes there may be another option."
Still, the chief stands by the idea that a suspect dictates how an incident ends.
But there are different tools to use during an incident, whether a gun, taser or maybe even a baton.
"We train to meet with one level of force above , so a level above a knife, that would be a gun."
So what can we, as everyday citizens, do to best avoid any issues? Benefield says to start with common sense.
"Put your hands on the steering wheel," he said. "When the officer comes up, do as the officer says , follow the direction of what they're telling you and there won't be any issue."