In 2012, the Anchorage Police Department reported five officer-involved shootings with deadly force, one of which left a member of Anchorage's Polynesian community dead. Following those incidents the Polynesian community rallied together demanding answers to why they occurred.
On Monday, local law enforcement and other agencies attended a seminar reviewing the science behind how quickly an interaction can become one involving deadly force.
Polynesian community leader Ma'o Tosi said he's glad local law enforcement is discussing and learning about deadly force interactions, following the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man in June. Shane Tasi was killed by Officer Boaz Gionson when he approached Gionson with a broken broom handle.
“With all of our issues that have happened in 2012 I think it's opened many of our eyes to figure out resolutions,” said Polynesian community leader Ma’o Tosi.
Tosi says Monday's discussion is only one piece to the puzzle of creating a safer community.
“If they're not implementing solutions in our community also then it's only one side getting ready and prepared for the many situations that can be,” said Tosi. “But a solution within our minority communities without our city altogether should be more solutions for us all to utilize.”
While Monday’s training was not focused on teaching officers when to shoot and when not to shoot, Force Science Institute professor Bill Lewinski said the information officers are learning will be valuable in the field.
“The real key to human performance is to understand the human being using a tool in a life and death encounter,” said Dr. Bill Lewinski.
A learning process that Tosi said doesn't end with a seminar but begins with a community wanting to be better.
“I think we all need to lead as examples individually and kind of go from there that if individually we're all trying to be this better and more patriotic person that it only betters our community,” said Tosi.
The Force Science Institute, based in Mankato, Minnesota, teaches Force Science concepts during investigations, training and the evaluation of officers' behavior during these encounters.
Editor's note: An incorrect reference to Harry Smith, killed in an APD-involved shooting July 1, as a member of the Polynesian community has been removed.
Contact Mallory Peebles