State Police will be training about 50 new troopers at a class beginning in September — provided legislators pay for it, Superintendent Col. Michael Edmonson said during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.
Authorization to hold the class was granted under former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, and the $5 million to pay for the training is in the proposed budget, at least for the time being, Edmonson said.
The money still could be stripped out by legislators during the next two weeks. House Bill 1, which authorizes spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1, is being considered by the Senate. The budget plan still has a ways to go before it is approved.
State Police has 1,039 officers, down from 1,147 over the past eight years. Ninety-six percent of the troopers are male and 81 percent are white, according State Police statistics.
Troopers in training stay at the State Police’s Baton Rouge headquarters through the week to learn about police work, what to look for, how to approach different types of people, how to deal with different types of situations and how to be respectful.
“I understand the responsibilities I have in front of me,” Edmonson told the senators. He was superintendent during the eight years of the Jindal administration and needs the Senate to confirm his renomination by Gov. John Bel Edwards, who took office on Jan. 11.
The information came up under questioning about the number of police-related shootings of civilians that have been reported around the country.
“With all that is going on around the country with issues reflecting behavior of police officers,” Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, said it’s important “that we’re able to work closely on one side where our officers are treating motorists and citizens properly. But on the other side that we are providing resources that keep your officers safe.”
“We’re all human beings, senator. But I promise you, we strive to make sure our troopers understand what it means to be human. We really work hard at doing that,” Edmonson said.
Edmonson said he and his top aides look at each police shooting incident that pops up in the news nationally from a lessons learned perspective. They’re trying to figure out what conditions existed and what could be changed if a similar situation happened here, he said.
State Police once had to qualify annually to use their weapons. Now, troopers are on the shooting range three times a year, he said.
And where once they took two days of in-service training each, now every trooper attends a week’s worth of seminars that review law, driving, shooting and other issues. Another week’s worth of classes also are required annually to focus on leadership issues, Edmonson said.
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