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Stricter training standards for police officers

A new push is underway to get police officers more training to cut down on accidental shootings. The move comes after State Police determined the officer whose gun discharged killing a man in Alexander did not have her state certification yet.

A new push is underway to get police officers more training to cut down on accidental shootings. The move comes after State Police determined the officer whose gun discharged killing a man in Alexander did not have her state certification yet.

"Theres no guarantee that just because we're a small town doesn't mean that we wont have a bad situation," said Shannon Hills Police Chief Bobby Hale.

Chief Hale knows this first hand after assisting neighboring Alexander police during an officer-involved shooting over the weekend.

"I know for a fact - this is my first shooting involving an Alexander police officer and I've been here going on three years," said Alexander Police Chief Horace Walters, Saturday. "It's a very rare occasion."

But it does happen. That's why the state's Law Enforcement Standards and Training is discussing a stricter policy for Arkansas current officer training requirements.

"The more training you can give somebody in whatever walk of life they're in, whatever job they're in, the better they're going to be at it," said Standards Deputy Director Brian Marshall.

In Arkansas, officers are first hired, then required to complete 12 weeks of training within the first year of employment. Alexander Officer Nancy Cummings only had five weeks of training completed before Saturday's shooting where state police say her gun discharged killing Carleton Wallace.

"These things obviously need to be addressed," said Marshall.

Chief Hale already tries only to hire previously certified officers.

"Most of the officers that have worked here have worked in larger jurisdictions, most of us have been in serious situations where decisions have had to be made," said Chief Hale.

So he welcomes tighter restrictions adding the more training his officers have, the safer it is for members of the force and the community.

Alexander only has six officers on the force, including the chief, and under the current standards those are the departments having the hardest time getting police training completed. They don't have the staff to make up for a missing member of the force.

The commission will start meeting over the next few weeks.

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