CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — In light of recent disturbing viral videos of police brutality, WOWK 13 News spoke to police departments in Cabell County to find out what local police make of the videos and what kind of training they make their officers go through to avoid the use of excessive force and violence.
Former Huntington Mayor Joseph L. Williams Jr. said he, like many, was outraged by the viral footage of Minneapolis Police officers using excessive force leading to the suspect’s death. He said while he trusts that officers in his area are well-trained, there are always exceptions.
“There are renegades in any system, be it law enforcement, doctors, what have you. I like to think that they’re all well trained, but only time will tell,” Williams said.
Cabell County Deputy First Class Michael Talbott said officers in West Virginia must undergo extensive training. The plan, in the end, is to avoid incidents of police brutality.
“Once you leave the state police academy, the agency that you work for — and each agency is different — but each agency has its own policies and procedures and mandates for what type of training is necessary,” Talbott said. “It’s a state law that you must have at least 16 hours of in-service training annually to maintain your law enforcement certification.”
As with other police departments across the nation, the Huntington Police Department is condemning what happened in Minnesota. Chief Ray Cornwell said any kind of excessive force is not in line with their department’s protocol.
“What I saw there was not consistent with our training, and our values here at the Huntington Police Department. Our officers are trained to use the minimum amount of force necessary to gain control and compliance, and then to stop using force,” Cornwell said
Deputy Talbott said the biggest challenge is simply the job itself, and that one never knows when proper defensive training techniques will need to be deployed.
“You may go half your career, you may go 10, 15 years and never have a situation where you have anybody that resists you, and then you might go through a week where it seems like everybody’s just lost their minds. You know, everybody wants to try you. As the times are changing, the environment is changing,” Talbott said.
That is why Williams believes it’s the integrity of the man or woman on the beat — and the department they work for — matters most.
“Overall, I think most officers in this area are decent law-abiding officers,” Williams said.