S.C. Sheriff Puts Journalists Through Simulated Use-of-Force Exercises

Five local journalists in Lexington, South Carolina participated in a simulated “force or no force” exercise hosted by the Lexington County sheriff’s office in light of the riots in Charlotte, North Carolina over the fatal shooting of an African-American man.

The exercise was meant to put the journalists through real-life situations that the deputies face on a daily basis during traffic stops. The journalists were tasked with using their own  judgement in perceiving threats as they walked in deputies’ shoes for simulated traffic stops.

“While other people have hours and days and weeks to review body-cam footage and and dash-cam footage, you have to make that decision right then, right there, and go with your gut and you do what you think will get you home at night,” one journalist said.

Gallagher said that some of the reporters had to make split-second decisions that she said some reporters called “eye-opening.”

Another journalist said that she had believed they had a different perspective because they are the ones that have to observe and gather all the facts following the shooting incidents.

“We rarely hear from officers after a shooting happens because of a host of reasons, but I just think this gave me kind of the perspective that I needed to more fairly report on these kinds of things,” she added.

Gallagher concluded that the journalists’ different reactions helped them to understand that one cannot judge someone else’s reactions until putting oneself into someone else’s shoes.

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