Eau Claire Police Are Investigating a Police Shooting That Left One Man Dead
Eau Claire police are investigating a weekend shooting that left one man dead. The incident occurred Saturday outside the Scottish Inn and Suites, where a caller reported a man with a gun in the parking lot. Officers were able to stop the suspect and killed him, according to the Eau Claire Police Department.
The man’s death has drawn national attention to police shootings, but it is also a reminder of how difficult it can be to deal with mental health issues in communities. As Wisconsin struggles to find a balance between gun control and mental health, some officers are increasingly turning to lethal force when dealing with people they suspect of having serious emotional problems.
There is a long history of officers using deadly force to protect themselves or their loved ones, but recent trends have shown the practice can be harmful for everyone involved. A statewide investigation found that from 2015 to 2018, seven people in Wisconsin died at the hands of law enforcement, including four in Eau Claire.
In the last two years, more than half of those who were shot by police in Wisconsin were people of color. This is a trend that has led to increased discussions between police and minority groups, but it also puts pressure on authorities to look into these cases further.
While some police departments are trying to diversify their officer training, others are still spending far more time in firearms skills and defensive tactics than they do on ethics, communications, cultural competence and other nonlethal weapons. That has some experts calling for greater training in these areas as well.
For some, the escalation in deaths has prompted the need to dig deeper into how officers are interacting with people who have mental health issues. As such, Eau Claire Police Chief Jerry Staniszewski said his department has been trying to make sure officers get the proper training to handle mental health cases, including trauma and stress.
A number of these training programs involve the use of a variety of nonlethal weapons, such as foam projectiles and kevlar bola wraps. While such devices are not a replacement for lethal force, they can be an effective tool in de-escalating conflicts, Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department Captain Cory Schalinske says.
However, many of these weapons are less precise than a firearm and can be dangerous. Some of them are illegal to carry, which can lead to jail time and stiff penalties for officers who misuse them, Stroshine told WPR.
As a result, the question remains: Does it help to have more policing agencies increase their arsenals of nonlethal weapons? Or is it better for officers to have more training in ethical and humane approaches to interacting with people who have mental health issues?
In addition, many people are becoming more aware of the dangers of violence, whether from a firearm or another type of weapon. That can be a positive thing, but it can also cause tension between police and community members, Schalinske and others say.