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Citizen Asks For De-escalation Training

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at 11:21 am

LACIE SILVA – Editor

Jasper Police Department conducts de-escalation training but in the expressed opinion of one citizen, Robert Dunger, the training is insufficient and more needs to be done.

At the September 11, Town of Jasper Board Meeting, Dunger spoke out during the public comments section about the recent incident between Samuel Hrynecwicz and Officer Graham. Dunger stated that, “I have a problem because within 20 seconds, he (Officer Graham) escalates instead of de-escalates.” He continued by asking if the officers were going to conduct any training in de-escalation.

The incident in question occurred on August 5, a traffic stop that resulted in Officer Graham unsuccessfully attempting “to use the tactic of (a) brachial stun,” and Hrynecwicz was struck in the face, all cited by the press release from Courtney C. Lynch, District Attorney General.

Chief Billy Mason responded that all officers go through de-escalation training and continued his statement by defending Officer Graham’s actions in his repeated attempts to request Hrynecwicz to exit the vehicle. Mason continued to explain that this was because Officer Graham believed there to be an assault rifle in the backseat of the car.

Dunger countered that the possession of any weapon is the expressed right of Hrynecwicz under the Second Amendment. Mason responded that the safety of his officers is also their own personal right. Dunger attempted to discuss the events further, but Mason continued to reiterate his point and there would not be any argument.

Mason stated that all the officer’s actions had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the DA after they had turned over the issue. Dunger stated that he had protested his opinion to Mayor Jason Turner that was exactly what would happen. Mason finalized stating that was the extent to their involvement, however, Dunger quipped the situation was not over.

Mason reaffirmed that the issue was resolved as far as their department was concerned. Dunger stated that it may be over for him but that a bad apple being put back into the barrel will spoil the rest of the apples. Mason questioned what Dunger was insinuating and Dunger openly stated that he believed the officer to be a bad cop and that he needs to be removed from the force.

Mason further asked what Dunger insinuated that it wasn’t over, and Dunger disclosed that he had contacted and sent the video recordings to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Mason remarked that Dunger should have sent the entire body cam footage to which Dunger responded, “I did. I sent them all.”

Turner interrupted to change the subject and close the public comments section of the meeting. No further information has been released about new de-escalation training nor regarding a response from the ACLU. As of now, the official investigation has been resolved as Mason expressed by the DA.

The Marion Tribune – October 5, 2023