Charleston police chief responds to mayor’s letter with action plan

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Charleston Police Department Chief Tyke Hunt has written a response to a letter sent to the department by Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin following an officer-involved shooting on Charleston’s West Side on April 30.

Goodwin’s letter requested an action plan regarding stun-gun use, inventory and training be put in place by the department by today, June 1, 2021. At the time she sent the letter, the mayor stated she knew implementing the measures would not happen overnight, but said the city “must equip our officers with the tools and trainings they need to best protect our community.”

Hunt’s letter began:

“Thank you for your continued support for the Charleston Police Department as we strive to exceed the minimum mandated training requirements set forth for law enforcement officers. The pandemic stifled many plans; however, we were able to adapt and complete training in crucial areas despite the burdensome restrictions.”

Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt in a letter to Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin

Chief Hunt says the department completed recertification for officers who were previously trained and certified to use Tasers. Hunt said the department currently has 57 working Tasers. Because deploying a stun-gun is not effective in every situation, such as the incident on April 30, the chief proposed a five-year plan to equip 90 officers with the newer Taser7, which has more advanced technology to make the deployment more effective. He added that the newer technology could have made deploying the taser an effective solution in that instance.

Hunt also says he is requesting the purchase of 90 new body cameras which will have a longer battery life and allow officers to change the batteries quickly when needed. The department has already purchased 90 of these cameras, and says the additional purchase would ensure every officer has one of these newer cameras.

The police chief also says in his letter the department will no longer carry shotguns as a lethal option. He added they are working to get “less-lethal” rounds for the shotguns and that lethal shotgun ammunition will not be permitted in any CPD facility, in any CPD vehicle or on any CPD officer.

For training, Hunt says the department’s equity and community outreach officer became certified as an Emotional Intelligence 2.0 instructor. The first step of the training began in January 2021 and plans for the next phases to begin in 2022 are in place. As further continuing education, the chief says the department will also send 10 officers to a De-escalation Training course in July and August that is designed to address how officers should handle mental health-related calls for service/

De-escalation can be seen throughout the April 30th, 2021, incident on body-worn camera videos. These techniques have long since been implemented in our training and policies. With that, the Charleston Police Department recognizes the need to provide our officers training in best practices available that correlate with the needs of the community we serve,” Hunt said in the letter.

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