Civilian-Oversight Crowd Gets A Dose Of Force Science

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A conference in Austin, TX, recently offered the first chance for Force Science principles and the studies of the Force Science Research Center to be presented to an international gathering of civilian-oversight practitioners—a group FSRC’s executive director Dr. Bill Lewinski describes as “a vitally important target audience.”

The conference was the annual convention of the National Assn. for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), which attracted some 200 attendees from 30 states and a variety of countries abroad, including Norway, Northern Ireland, and Jamaica. Law enforcement personnel, members of police commissions and civilian review boards, and others who monitor and investigate police activities, including use-of-force incidents, were represented.

According to NACOLE president Andre Birotte, “Many had never heard of Force Science concepts and research before. Our board felt it was important for them to be informed because of the cutting-edge nature of that work.”

In a fast-moving, 90-minute presentation, Lewinski gave the group a basic introduction to what the latest research reveals about human performance in life-threatening situations, touching on how scientific findings can be used in evaluating controversial use-of-force situations where officers often are inappropriately accused of misdeeds.

“He gave the audience a lot of food for thought,” Birotte says, “and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Whether this will affect oversight decisions in the future remains to be seen, but it will definitely cause those who were present to think about the science involved in stressful force encounters.”

Birotte says the invitation to speak was extended to Lewinski after a NACOLE board member from Washington State attended a Force Science certification class and earned her designation as a Force Science analyst.

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