Officers train for brazen suspects, more dangerous shootouts - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Officers train for brazen suspects, more dangerous shootouts

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Training commanders said keeping a clear line of sight with the suspect before firing is an absolute. Training commanders said keeping a clear line of sight with the suspect before firing is an absolute.
Sgt. Lee Meredith and Eric Flack Sgt. Lee Meredith and Eric Flack

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Few will forget the dramatic images from May 17, 2012 when two broad daylight shootings in a busy neighborhood showed how brazen suspects of violent crime can be. Police said that incident is an example of a disturbing trend that shows suspects are willing to shoot at officers when ever and where ever.

Training commanders at the Jeffersontown Police Department are working to prepare their officers. Sgt. Lee Meredith said a rise in ambushes on officers nationwide led to the department's first live ammo firearms training from inside a police cruiser. He's teaching patrolmen what to do if they have to fire from the drivers seat, how the windshield will impact where the bullet goes and ways to minimize risk for people caught in the crossfire.

"If it's a situation where you have an individual pointing a weapon in a crowded area, you know we have to make that decision whether or not the risk of possible hitting some innocent bystanders outweighs the risk of engaging that target," Meredith said. "It's extremely difficult."

That split second decision was faced by Louisville Metro Police Department officers during that chaotic shooting on 32nd Street one year ago. Families ran for cover while officers with guns drawn tried to regain control. When the smoke cleared there were three dead and three wounded spread over two different locations. One of the wounded: a suspect shot by a Louisville Metro Police officer. No innocent bystanders were injured.

Officers within the department said they were stunned someone would pull out a gun and allegedly commit murder with almost 50 officers and emergency responders standing right there. LMPD is now using the incident to show recruits gunfire can erupt even in an area that's been locked down as more and more departments teach officers to expect the unexpected.

"That falls back on us," Sgt. Meredith said. "An extreme challenge to law enforcement to understand that and respond accordingly."

Training commanders said keeping a clear line of sight with the suspect before firing is an absolute. They also teach officers to look for people standing behind the target in case the bullet were to pass right through the suspect.

Both LMPD and Jefferson Police said they also use national incidents, like the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent shootout with the suspects, as teaching tools. They said they are constantly tweaking their response techniques to ensure officers are ready for anything.

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