Camden Co. police train for dangerous encounters

Friday, December 18, 2015
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Members of the Camden County Police Department are learning how to resolve encounters with suspects in a new way.

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- Members of the Camden County Police Department are used to dealing with tense situations, and officers are now learning how to resolve encounters with suspects in a new way.

Action News obtained exclusive video from the Camden County Police Department showing officers engaging a man with a knife last month.

The suspect threatened to kill someone. While things did get tense, the situation ended with no one being injured and the man being tazed and arrested.

Responding officers used the department's Ethical Protector training to de-escalate the situation.

We were allowed to film some of the training that all officers are now required to take.

Lieutenant Kevin Lutz says the officers walk away from the training with vital skills.

He explains, "This training is the right thing at the right time."

The three day training, which focuses on verbal de-escalation, self-defense and ethics, doesn't just stop after officers complete the course, but becomes part of everyday culture.

The program also serves as a wake-up call to officers.

Lt. Lutz explains, "Why they got into this job, why they got into law enforcement, from the day they graduated the academy. So that's reinforcing, so they kind of feel that on an ongoing basis, and really have that baseline of ethical clarity."

Police say that the training they are receiving is more than just an exercise. What they are learning will be used out on the streets. They also say, not only is this protection for the community, but it will also keep officers safe.

Lutz says, "Not to say at some point a deadly force encounter may occur, but I would say that this training will prevent that from happening more often than not."

We spoke with a mother and daughter team. Lt. Linda Alicea has been on the force 18-years, and her daughter, Cythina Melendez, just two years. Both say this is positive training that will have an impact on the community.

Lt. Linda Alicea says, "Personally, having my daughter here, this can eventually actually save her life and the life of a citizen."

Out on the streets, officers say the goal is to be less physical when possible, and resolve a situation before it escalates.