(ST. JOSEPH,Mo) The growing conversation surrounding law enforcement and the use of force has prompted Missouri Western State University to spearhead a conversation.
The university welcomed Canadian Detective Sergeant Jeff Johnsgaard of the Saskatoon Police Department to host a forum on misconceptions behind the use of force in law enforcement.
Tuesday night Johnsgaard presented “Police Use of Force Realities: Human Beings Dealing with Human Beings During Critical Incidents.”
The sergeant used his 15 years of service to speak with students, law enforcement officers and community members about the realities of working in law enforcement and the pressures of critical decision making.
“I use it as a platform to disbar a little bit of myth on the law enforcement side and on the community side.[I] use it as a platform to drive some good discussion, but also to raise awareness and trying to close the gap between what the police perceive their duties and job are and what the community perceives,” Johnsgaard said.
The forum was conversation driven and focused on the fundamentals of force and identifying general biases.
“We have to define our terms and understanding that we all have previous histories. We all bring a bias to everything and if we are going to talk about force; [we have to ask] what is the force? Does that just mean physical? Does that just mean deadly force or grievous bodily harm, and take it from there,” Johnsgaard said.
Johnsgaard also spent some time talking with the cadets of Western’s Law Enforcement Academy about how to have a healthy career in law enforcement.
“My main message was understanding emotional intelligence. If we don’t survive the incident on seven separate levels, then we don’t survive it at all,” Johnsgaard said.
Johnsgaard broke down the seven layers of survival outlined by author Ken Murray. The officer touched on the physical, legal, moral, ethical and communal aspects of the use of force by an officer.
“If I do something and survive, but the community doesn’t understand and see what I was doing and why, then I did not survive. The police service and myself can all be harmed by that.It’s that seven survivals concept that will make sure you leave your career 25 years from now happy and healthy,” Johnsgaard said.