Sylvania Township police officers undergo training four times a year, and Chief Paul Long said the department tries to include firearms training in each of the segments.
“We always hope no officer has to resort to lethal force, but on this job, you don’t know.”
The chief was referring to the February incident in which a Sylvania Township officer shot a knife-wielding robber who continued to advance on him despite the officer’s calls to him to stop and drop the knife.
The robbery victim, a clerk at a gas station, saw the encounter and said the officer continued to back away, creating as much distance as possible, before he fired.
In training, Chief Long said, the department tries to create scenarios to cause a sense of tension.
In addition to target shooting, there is training in firing while moving, and timed firing when a rotated target can show either a threat or an innocent citizen.
“We try to create situations that create pressure, but we sure can’t come up with what that officer was facing.”
The incident began when a female clerk at the Stop and Go, 5101 West Alexis at Whiteford, called Sylvania Township police to report a suspicious car in the parking lot. She said she had been outside
looking at the car when a man wearing a mask approached, but walked away after she said something to him.
Shortly after making the call a man entered the convenience store carrying a long silver-bladed butcher knife.
His coat’s hood was pulled over his head, he was wearing sunglasses and a bright orange mask. After the knife was threateningly waved at her, she was able to flee the building and the robber took cash from the register and then he left the store.
As this was occurring, the Sylvania Township officer was responding to what is usually an uneventful call to investigate a suspicious auto.
When he arrived the clerk was outside beginning to tell him of the robbery, when the man came around the corner of the building carrying the knife.
“If you remember, there was heavy snow. Our officer was responding to a suspicious car and now he’s got a lot to process.
Now it’s a robbery, there’s the victim, and now this guy’s coming at him with a knife.
“He was backing, trying to maintain distance, as he should, but the footing was bad with snow and ice.”
The chief also noted the officer had to remain aware that the clerk was standing nearby and that someone just coming in to get gas could at any minute be in the middle of the event.
The chief reiterated that no one wants a confrontation to end in a shooting.
“In this case, the officer had no choice. There are absolutely no red flags. It’s unfortunate, but the officer did everything correctly. I don’t know what that guy was thinking, but I’m proud of how our officer acted.”
The officer fired and struck the attacker. He reported the shooting to the dispatcher and began to administer first aid.
William Resto, 54, was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The officer had had a training session only weeks before the incident, the chief said.
Some officers grumble a bit about training, “but it’s why we do it.”
It not only helps to hone skills, the chief said, but it helps to guard against complacency,
“We can get complacent. It’s human nature, but as an officer, you don’t know. You just can’t become complacent.
Written by: Mike Jones, Public Information Officer
Published Date: March 10, 2020
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