CHANTILLY, VA (WUSA9) - The deadly police shooting of John Geer was the catalyst for huge changes in the Fairfax County Police Department.
The unarmed man was was shot and killed standing in the doorway of his Springfield home.
The officer who shot him is now out of prison after serving ten months of a one year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
On Thursday, as part of their renewed commitment to transparency, reporters were invited to go through some of the same training Fairfax County police officers now receive.
Lt. Dan Pang said there is not exact answer in how to deal with various situations. Often, officers spend a great deal of time trying to deescalate situations.
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," said Lt. Pang. "Protecting life is paramount."
"But if you life is in danger, like that," he snapped his fingers, "You absolutely have the right to defend yourself.
On a domestic violence call, the most dangerous kind, two men role played brothers, one was the abuser who had attacked the other. The role-playing officers asked questions and figured out which man was the 'predominant aggressor" and made the arrest.
In Virginia, police officer must determine which person is committed the assault, both cannot be be charged with domestic violence. Officers are trained to listen for an abuser who makes up lies about his victim.
Traffic stops can also be dangerous. The reporter role-playing an officer failed to notice the driver she pulled over opened his door, which could mean trouble. While the reporter did a lot right in terms of initial contact, she made a big mistake.
"You failed to notice a loaded semi-automatic handgun sitting on the passenger seat of the vehicle. Which in and of itself, is not a violation of law here in Virginia," said PFC Mark Pollard, who says most people who open carry that he encounters, are law-abiding citizens.
But still, it's not the best situation to have a weapon in view, he says.
Pollard said he asks the gun owner if it's okay that he hold on to the gun while the traffic stop is conducted.
Fairfax County police want the public to see the situations their officers encounter to increase public understanding about their jobs.
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