ATF agents said interactions can turn violent quickly — within minutes — and decisions need to be made in a split second while adhering to strict guidelines.
In a split second, police may have to decide whether to use force and it can mean life or death.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as the ATF, showed reporters how law enforcement officers around the country operate under these guidelines in potentially dangerous situations.
“We want to try and close the gap between the public’s understanding of the use of force and the police,” Agent Jim Balthazar said.
Balthazar and Paul Massock, deputy chief of the ATF’s Special Operations Division, took NBC10 Boston through the classroom and into virtual scenarios that mimic what a high-stakes traffic stop could look like.
Even though it was all staged — it was stressful.
“Clearly, law enforcement use of force is a serious topic in the U.S. today and we want to make sure we can educate the public as to what the rules are that officers are required to follow,” Massock said.