NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Norfolk's acting police chief Sharon Chamberlin announced Tuesday that police recruits in the City of Norfolk will no longer receive blows to the head during defensive tactics training. Chamberlin also said that an EMT will be on hand at each and every training exercise.
For roughly three months, a safety panel studied the procedures used by the Norfolk Police Academy during defensive tactics training. The study comes after police recruit John Kohn's death in December.
Kohn died December 18, from what the family said was a massive brain injury.
The Safety Panel looked at the video of Instructor Leldon Sapp punching Police Recruit John Kohn in the head until he blacked out. Panel member Dr. Tony Cetrone said, "Referring back to the report, I think we have made that conclusion that we are not going to allow head blows as part of the training."
"As far as the family is concerned, it's a little late," said Kohn's family attorney Jim Lewis. "With that said hind site is 20-20. We are pleased to see the powers to be have reevaluated the appropriateness of that exercise and others as well."
Acting Chief Sharon Chamberlin oversaw the department training when the Kohn incident occurred. We asked her what responsibility she has as the Assistant Chief of Training for what happened.
"My response is we are looking at the panel recommendations and we are making changes," said Chamberlin.
Chamberlin refused to discuss Kohn or his death, but said training strategies are changing with more of an open eye on other techniques. "We know the importance and we understand the need to block certain movements on the street, and that is what we are going to emphasize."
Other changes include more education on head injuries with instructors and recruits, better reporting of those injuries, and no more running in and out of doorways.
Kohn's death is the only one from Norfolk recruit training.
WAVY.com asked Norfolk for:
Defensive Tactics Injuries
September 2004-December 2010
All these injuries are considered part of training, said Dr. Tony Cetrone whose clinic is used for recruit injuries.
"We think we can improve these injuries by changing the training school. We need to spread it out over time, so that over time we can reduce the soft tissue injuries that were the vast majority of the injuries," Cetrone said.
Defensive Tactics Instructors and Police Academy Instructors have already attended a preliminary class on head trauma.
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