Police rookies simulate use-of-force scenarios

One of the ways Vancouver Police Department recruits learn use-of-force rules is through simulations at the Justice Institute of B.C.

In every scenario the instructor asks: "Who's in control?" The answer: "We are."

Rookies are taught repeatedly how to control the situation when arresting suspects 2:18

One of the ways Vancouver Police Department recruits learn use-of-force rules is through simulations at the Justice Institute of B.C.

The police force has come under scrutiny this past week after a video showing a plainclothes Vancouver police officer punching a detained man in the face was posted on Facebook.

On Tuesday, the B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner announced the West Vancouver Police Department would investigate the punch, and whether it was an inappropriate conduct in the situation.

In the video, the detained man asks why he was hit, and is told it is because he was resisting. When you rewind the video, you can see how the detained man does raise his arm as he turns his head.

Brad Fawcett, a use-of-force instructor at the Justice Institute, teaches the rookies that resistance isn't always a clear-cut issue, but when it happens, it usually happens at first contact, which is usually when a suspect is being handcuffed.

Fawcett says maintaining control is one of the core tenets of police work: Control of themselves, control of a situation, and control of a subject.

"Obviously, you want to gain the person's voluntary compliance, and that may not always be possible," Fawcett said.

When asked "is there ever a time when officers are allowed to hit or punch?" he says: "Oh, certainly. Certainly."

"Again, it's all dictated by the nature of resistance that the person demonstrates," Fawcett said.

Police recruits simulate an arrest scenario during training at the Justice Institute of B.C. (CBC)

Fawcett leads the officers-in-training in a pretend barroom arrest. Someone pretends to record the event on a camera and yells "this is going on YouTube."

Fawcett says simulating, then debriefing events that will be encountered in the real world is a large part of training.

With every scenario, another instructor asks the same question: "Who's in control?"

The correct response, the only response, is: "We are."

With files from the CBC's Deborah Goble