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'Force Science Institute' hosts controversial use of force training for police across Ohio

News 5 not allowed into training session in Westlake
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Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 26, 2022

WESTLAKE, Ohio — A national company is in Westlake this week to provide use of force training to police forces in the region, but News 5 wasn't allowed there to see it.

While police departments in Northeast Ohio and across the country have been publicly messaging about wanting to be more transparent about how they do their jobs, News 5's reporting crew ran into more of the opposite at the Westlake Recreation Center on Tuesday.

There our camera captured a stream of officers returning from lunch for more training with a company called Force Science Institute.

According to the company’s website, it’s a five-day, 40-hour certification course with expert instructors for $1,650 in tuition.

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The website listing the Force Science Institute training event.

The training is designed to develop an understanding of officer performance, counter unfounded accusations of misconduct and enhance use of force investigations, among other things, according to the company.

News 5 wanted to see the training for ourselves after reporting by the New York Times questioned the teachings of the Force Science Institute, and after a similar training was canceled at Ohio State in February 2020.

A petition back then, by several groups that advocate against police brutality, called the course language incredibly disturbing and suggests this class is little more than training in how to get away with police brutality.

Ohio State spokesman Dan Hedman sent us the statement issued then by the university.

“We have heard and understand the concerns raised by our community members and appreciate the feedback. The Department of Public Safety and its police division have decided that Ohio State will no longer host the training. Safety, inclusion and a sense of belonging are top priorities at Ohio State. We see this as the start of an important dialogue and a learning opportunity.”

Hedman also says the Force Science Institute’s agenda was not representative of conversations with university officials when space was reserved, and while it was hosted at Ohio State, it was planned for multiple agencies to attend.

WOSU, the radio station and news outlet owned by The Ohio State University, reported at the time that the since-deleted event listing advertised that attendees would “discover science-backed facts about some of the most controversial force issues,” including “how threatening suspects may be shot in the back by a well-trained officer who made a valid, lawful shooting decision” and “why officers, in high-adrenalin confrontations, will continue to fire what some commentators will judge as ‘unnecessary’ rounds.”

While the event information for the course in Westlake does not include these descriptions, it does promote the teaching of concepts such as: "Whether shots to the back really reflect what shooters saw when they fired," "The facts about use of force decisions: How long it takes to start and stop actions," and "How to avoid critical mistakes during post-incident interviews."

News 5 had questions about the course, and in our conversation with Westlake police, we were first given the impression that a representative for the department would talk on camera about why their officers are in the training course. When we got to the police station, they said they were hesitant to do so because they didn’t want to damage their relationship with Force Science.

Police from all over the state are attending, but Westlake wouldn’t say which departments.

When News 5 asked why Westlake police invited Force Science, a representative for the department said they’re the best in the country.

A spokesperson for Force Science would only talk by phone but said their training was not controversial and is designed to have the most accurate and honest results for use of force investigations.

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