Our Opinion: Patrol on right track with training, transparency

In a welcome move, the Missouri Highway Patrol is opening the curtain on how it trains its troopers and how it works to de-escalate what can be tense situations.

On Friday, the patrol hosted reporters from around Missouri to get a closer look at how the agency operates.

"We started putting this together this summer as the pandemic was continuing and more cases of civil unrest were occurring," Highway Patrol Col. Eric Olson said. "This was a way to show how and why we do our job in certain situations. We don't want to be complacent because complacency can be detrimental to a law enforcement agency."

As we reported Saturday, Gov. Mike Parson stopped by briefly and said he hopes these type of events will be done by other law enforcement agencies in the state. A former sheriff, Parson said he believes law enforcement needs to prioritize community policing activities to interact with citizens in a positive way.

We couldn't agree more. We've long been proponents of community policing as a way for officers to know people in neighborhoods as humans before residents interact with them as police officers.

Patrol Sgt. Aaron Griffin told reporters de-escalation training is done through the entire six-month recruiting process. "The first thing we focus on is how we treat people. De-escalation is as simple as having a conversation with a person instead of yelling at them," he said.

Being open and respectful are key, he said. "We tell them that if they see a law officer using excessive force, it is their duty to stop it and tell their supervisors," he said.

This year, more than ever, more transparency is needed in policing. We're glad to see the patrol taking steps to make that happen.

News Tribune