Retired police captain explains training behind Saratoga Springs incident

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Police go through rigorous training in order to handle chaotic scenes like the one in Saratoga Springs as Sunday morning’s shooting on Broadway unfolded. As NewsChannel 13 has reported, a deputy from Rutland, Vermont was shot by police.

NewsChannel 13 has been gathering reaction from local leaders and digging into the people involved in the shooting, including interviewing the deputy’s attorney.

Retired Troy Police Captain John Cooney called the shooting unfortunate, but said from what he saw, Saratoga Springs Police appear to have followed standard law enforcement training. Cooney is a 30-year veteran of the police force.

Cooney said the body camera video shows a highly chaotic scene — with police coming upon pedestrians in all directions. He said they’re trained to turn their attention to the person with a weapon.  

Cooney said he believes what the video shows is the best outcome given the circumstances. He said officers were put in a tough position with a gun allegedly out and pointed in their direction or possibly near a citizen — with that information, he said, police are trained to act quickly and use deadly force.

“They had a lot to sort out. And in the end, as unfortunate as it is that a fellow law enforcement officer was engaged, we see that the officer presented a threat. Which, those men and women go to work every night knowing they need to go home. A gun out, displayed openly, is something we have to react to,” Cooney said.

At least one officer from Saratoga Springs is heard shouting, “drop the gun” multiple times in body camera video from the incident. Cooney said it’s normal for officers not to announce themselves as police, possibly assuming they are plenty recognizable by their uniform.

In Cooney’s opinion, based on the information available, the officers had no way of knowing they were shooting at a law enforcement officer. However, he points out the guilt and hurt that could come with shooting a fellow member of law enforcement — saying it’s traumatizing and will have lasting effects on those officers.

“It’s very, very difficult as an on-duty officer to try to make these decisions — ‘Well, I think he’s a cop, he says he’s a cop, no.’ I have a gun pointed at myself, or at one of our citizens, I have to react and terminate that threat,’ which is the use of deadly force,” he said, referring to police officers’ possible thought process as they shot at the deputy.

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