JUST ASK SHANE: Interview with Kennewick Police Chief about Offi - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

JUST ASK SHANE: Interview with Kennewick Police Chief about Officer Involved Shootings

Posted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, WA - A special investigations unit continues to look into three separate officer involved shootings here in the Tri-Cities since mid-June.  The shootings provide another example that our society is getting more violent as a whole, and it's changed the way police respond to potentially violent situations.

They've also triggered a lot of questions from you.  Deanna sent me an email recently saying, "The officer involved shootings in the Tri-Cities have left me wondering if local police officers carry non-lethal weapons and what are the guidelines for the use of lethal force?"

I got a chance to sit down with Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg to ask him those questions, and learn more about how his department handles these situations.

"10 years ago we did not have the amount of felony assaults.  We did not have the amount of people shooting off weapons. We didn't have the amount of people that would resort to some level of violence that we have seen over the last few years," Chief Hohenberg said.

Chief Ken Hohenberg says he's seen a lot during his 36 years in law enforcement.  But he says what's happened in the last decade concerns him.  More violent crimes and more violent crimes involving guns.

"It's hard to point your finger and say what causes that? Some would argue it's the availability of guns, but others would say that's not correct. But what we do know is that we see people will resort to violence with firearms more quickly than they did 20 or 30 years ago," Hohenberg said.

When it comes to officer involved shootings, Hohenberg's department is not immune.  They've had two in the last two years, including the incident in June where a man was shot and killed after he pointed a gun at officers.  Hohenberg says his officers are equipped with non-lethal resources like tasers, shotguns that shoot bean-bags, and pepper spray.  But sometimes, these situations escalate very quickly.

"The problem is, depending on what the situation is, sometimes you may not have an opportunity to use something that's less than lethal, and all of the sudden you're in a situation where you're forced to use lethal force," Hohenberg added.

Chief Hohenberg is quick to point out that dozens of disputes and complaints are resolved by his officers every day, things that never make the headlines.  But it's those relationships that his officers build with their community that make the Tri-Cities a safer place to live.  

"I know we work very hard every day to earn that trust. It's not something we take lightly.  It's not something you achieve, and then sit back and rest.  We have to work every day at earning that trust," Hohenberg stated.

Remember, if you've got a question about something going on in our community... send it my way.  You can reach me in the newsroom at (509) 737-6738, or send me an email at JustAskShane@nbcrightnow.com.