Special Report: Police Relations, Technology and the Media

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SPECIAL REPORT – It may seem, every time you go on the web you're seeing some viral video, either in support of or against law enforcement. In a follow up to a story WAND did last year, we wanted to know: Are these things happening more? Or are we just hearing about them more?

In May of 2015, the Macon County Sheriff's Department put Dawn Sterling and Sean Streaty through a mini training camp.  They learned about guns and had adrenaline rushing scenarios thrown at them. The goal of the training: to see just how quickly an officer must make a decision.

Now, there's a smart phone capable of recording video in everyone's hands. And many viral videos claiming police brutality are popping up. It's causing riots and on the flip side, it's sometimes is deadly to an officer. 

Jim Root, Lieutenant with the Macon County Sheriff's Department says, "The criticism has always been there, now we just happen to have to deal the criticism coming in the form of a video. The videos coming out are the people's ability to second guess, to judge the officer of his actions without having to make the decisions themselves.”

The scrutiny of officers is having an effect on the number of men and women willing to put their lives on the line to protect others. 

Champaign Police Training Sargent Geoffery Coon says, "It's been somewhat more difficult to get applicants."

He adds, "It's a challenging time to get into law enforcement, however, we find those who have police work in their hearts, they want to do better for the community."

It's training that keeps officers alive, when it comes to something like an ambush.

Lt. Root says "We have always trained our officers to protect themselves – all the time. Whether doing a report in a parking lot or eating lunch in a diner."  

No more people are being killed by law enforcement. And no more officers are being killed either. With all the new technology and social media, you really are just hearing about it more.

According to the National Officer Down Memorial Page, the number of officers killed by gun fire has stayed fairly consistent over the past 20 years.

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