Virginia students experience pressure of using deadly force on suspects

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The use of deadly force is a split-second decision police officers must make, and students from Oscar Smith High School got to experience the tense encounters in a simulation on Wednesday.

Senior Police Officer Perry Bossuot says he made it possible for five students to visit the Chesapeake police training center after a student’s report on police brutality that he believed to be one-sided.

The video presentation showed people protesting, police protecting the crowd with shields and statistics of how many people killed by officers.

“To me it showed one aspect. It showed the negative part,” said Bossuot. “We are there to be your friend and work with you. We are not the bad guys.”

In the simulation, each of the students encountered an armed man and each of them shot the suspect when confronted.

“Nobody wants to shoot nobody, but when it’s life or death or someone else’s life in jeopardy, you have to do what you have to do,” said freshman Semaj Richardson.

Lawren Davis, who’s presentation sparked the conversation, says the training changed her negative view of police.

“I learned that police aren’t bad at all,” said Davis. “They actually are human like us and they actually have to make decisions to shoot or not shoot.”

Kathi Owens, a teacher at Oscar Smith, says she’s happy her students are learning that there are two sides to the story.

“We all are in a society where we think about ourselves and not about how the other people would react,” said Owens, who did the simulation and was surprised by the short amount of time officers have to think.

All of the students say they have newfound appreciation for a job they underestimated.

“They’ve proven to me being a police officer is an honorable job … they deserve respect,” said Richardson.

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