LAWTON, OK (RNN Texoma) - Lawton police officers went through training Wednesday to learn how to protect the rights of all citizens during protests and riots.
The training featured several officers learning new formations and movements associated with handling protests and riots. While they hope to avoid situations that require the tactics learned, they say it's important for them to be prepared for anything that might arise. Captain Ulysses Henderson said the main goal of Wednesday's training was for every officer to learn how to ensure every citizen is treated fairly.
"Whether their ideas and opinions are agreed upon by society or not, our job is to protect everyone. By utilizing this team and utilizing well-disciplined movements and tactics we can ensure all citizen’s rights are protected and restore order in the event that order and unrest turn to violence,” Henderson said.
During Wednesday’s training, actors portrayed protesters who were not obeying the police orders. The officer’s jobs were to allow the citizens to legally protest without allowing things to become dangerous.
"We don’t want property to be destroyed or anybody to get hurt. We want to see and reduce the likelihood of damage to businesses, damage to personal property and any injuries to citizens. The end all goal is to protect the rights of everybody,” Henderson said.
This program is common around the country but is relatively new to the Lawton Police Department. About a year ago, several officers began attending out of state classes on handling riots and now, they’ve taught that information to a select group of officers on Lawton’s force.
"The team is hand selected by the chief’s office and officers they think can handle the duties and the responsibilities of this team because it takes a special person, a special officer to be able to operate on this team. They are made up of officers you see every day patrol officers and detectives and officers from various units within the department,” Henderson said.
Captain Henderson said he hopes they never have any dangerous riots or protests in Lawton but knows if they do, thanks to their training they will be ready to respond.