High school students participate in sheriff's department use of force training

High school students in the East Bay got a firsthand look at what it's like to walk in the shoes of an Alameda County Sheriff Deputy.  

The students along with several community members were offered the department's use of force training course after attending a recent Barbershop Forum hosted by KTVU's Paul Chambers at Chabot College in Hayward.  

"Excuse me sir. Stop," says one of the participants. "I don't have to talk to you man," another retorts. 

Members of Alameda County Sheriff's office put on the course.  

"During that particular Barbershop Forum, they mentioned how they don't understand why law enforcement officers shoot people to kill them. So we wanted to give them an opportunity to see what law enforcement officers have to deal with," says Alameda County Sheriff Captain Michael Carroll. 

The instructors said it's impossible to teach those taking the course seven months of training in such a short amount of time. However, the hope is they can experience situations from law enforcement's vantage point.  

That way they'll better understand the day to day dangers officers can face. 

As the scenarios continue, two students fire off several rounds of a blank gun.  

"I just shot somebody. It was just crazy," Sojourner Truth High School Sophomore Saniyah Holoman said.

"I can see where the police officers are coming from because they fear for their lives, and in that instance, I feared for my life," Leadership Public School Senior Lord Leon Fauntleroy said.

"I know a couple of people and they're like, police officers shouldn't do this, police officers should do this. But you won't actually know until you're in a police officer’s shoes. When we just did that, it makes more sense now," said Holoman.

Marlan Simpson is an assistant principal at Mt. Eden High School. He helped plan the outing. His hope was that his students would have a positive interaction with law enforcement and likewise, have deputies learn and understand why so many teens fear officers.

He was looking at it from an educator's perspective or a teaching moment. 

"What it’s like to actual experience it, not just assume how an officer is supposed to respond. But also to get a feel for what you would do in this situation," said Simpson.  

In other scenarios when students shot and killed their suspects.  The response was similar to what many have heard in real life from officers, "I feared for my life."  One student felt just saying that alone was enough.  

"I felt like he was going do something. I couldn't pepper spray him. He was too far. He was coming closer and there was nothing I could do and he was gone."

Students also took part in on-screen simulated incidents-- interacting with a suspect who could charge, fight, or even shoot them.

One student explained why he attempted to shoot the suspect in the leg. "To try and disable him so he can drop his gun," Mt. Eden sophomore Brandon Lopez said. He explained he'd rather arrest a suspect instead of having to kill him.   

Officers are taught to fire at the person's upper torso or center of mass to stop the threat. After three different scenarios and a force option simulator, many of the students said they don't always agree with what officers do but have a better understanding. 

"It gives you a perspective of what the officers are dealing with and what's going through their heads," said Mt. Eden H.S. junior Carlos Garcia.