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Continued: Minnesota police departments seek to learn from tragedy

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 23, 2014 - 10:21 PM

The keys, he said, are paying attention to body language and positioning oneself for tactical advantage. For example, an officer during a traffic stop can respectfully but firmly tell people in the car to place their hands where he can see them.

“ ‘Please place your hands on the steering wheel,’ rather than saying, ‘Show me your hands! Do it now!’ ” Lewinski said. “One is a request, the other a demeaning order … If the officer does the best they can, you better believe you can influence a situation.”

Schnell, who was with the St. Paul police when Bergeron was killed, said the main thing that police must battle — especially with usually mundane traffic stops — is complacency.

“The majority of people we deal with are not a threat to us. Yet, at the same time, we have to be aware enough to realize we don’t know who the threat is and who isn’t,” he said, nodding to the shooting death during a traffic stop last month of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick.

The man accused of killing Patrick was a felon with warrants for his arrest, but he was driving someone else’s car. Patrick was killed as he approached the vehicle.

“This is the big challenge for us,” Schnell said. “I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but there is no tactic to overcome street evil.”


James Walsh • 651-925-504


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  • to serve and protect: Over the past few years, Minnesota police departments have lost several of their officers in the line of duty. In order to improve safety, agencies have ramped up training to include new shooting and defense techniques.

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