New law enforcers prepared to serve their communities - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New law enforcers prepared to serve their communities

Harrison County welcomed dozens of new law enforcers to the Magnolia state Thursday morning. (Photo source: WLOX) Harrison County welcomed dozens of new law enforcers to the Magnolia state Thursday morning. (Photo source: WLOX)
Graduates from Thursday's ceremony represented 14 different agencies in the state. (Photo source: WLOX) Graduates from Thursday's ceremony represented 14 different agencies in the state. (Photo source: WLOX)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Harrison County welcomed dozens of new law enforcers to the Magnolia state Thursday morning. It's a big day for the men and women to bask in their accomplishments and to take a big sigh of relief knowing they made it successfully through the training that will help them better protect and serve their communities.

Harrison County's Law Enforcement Training Academy Director Captain Louis Elias said in order to get to this day, you must train.

"The state mandates 480 hours of training and we're going a step beyond that at 560," he explained.

The training academy's lead PT Instructor Sergeant Emma Baptiste said their training focuses on helping the officers make split second decisions because that's what they face on the street. 

In regards to Wednesday's shooting in Gulfport involving an officer and a suspect with a knife, Sgt. Baptiste said that was a situation of force.

"If they are standing there with a knife, that is deadly force encounter. And to say that they should come with pepper spray or taser, you're setting the officer up to fail because it takes less than 21 feet for a subject with a knife to be at the officer before he can even draw his weapon," she explained.

She said before officers move to draw their weapon, they do try to diffuse the situation. But that doesn't always work and the officer must protect his or herself.

"Yes, you do want to create dialogue and attempt to speak to the individual. But if they have already gone to the level of presenting deadly force, then the officer cannot wait to negotiate at the point, because their life or someone else's life may be in jeopardy," she said.

"Again, it's that split second decision and when an officer is faced with force," Capt. Elias said, "he meets it with equivalent force or enough force to stop the threat."

Graduates from Thursday's ceremony represented 14 different agencies in the state.

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