I am going to admit that I was quite hesitant to adopt the concepts put forth by those preaching the value of de-escalation. The use of kindness and compassion in a violent world of subjects that seem to escalate matters no matter what one does really did not register within my tiny little head. It was not until recently that I met Kerry Mensior of the International De-Escalation Association. Not only was I impressed, but I was rather flustered that I had not seen the incredible value of de-escalation before. I quickly discovered that I had always assumed this was for law enforcement but when placed in the context of EMS, fire, hospital care, healthcare, corporate operations, and more, it can be just as, if not more powerful.
Today I am focusing on law enforcement, but make no mistake, I will be back writing more about this subject.
RESONATE NOT HESITATE
The word “resonate” is defined as affecting someone in a personal or emotional manner. The word can often be used to describe when one person produces or evokes a feeling of familiarity with someone.
As high-profile, deadly confrontations between law enforcement officers and civilians continue to generate widespread public concern, de-escalation training has been hailed as the solution for this seemingly intractable problem.
Public officials and policy makers from across the United States as well as the political spectrum have embraced de-escalation training as the key to safer interactions between responders and the public.
Unfortunately, for many officers, the word “de-escalation” is a loaded word. What many law enforcement officers perceive is a request or even a demand for them to hesitate in the action of their duty.
Utilizing de-escalation methods and techniques is not a replacement for previous law enforcement training nor is it meant to cause any responder to risk their own lives or the lives of others but is rather an opportunity to communicate with a greater chance of positive outcomes and with a new raised standard of excellence.
The International De-Escalation Association is committed to providing agencies, organizations, responders, and individuals with the tools that will allow them to be adept at dealing with situations that are charged with the worst of human reactions and emotions.
Powerful online courses are available for agency and/or group download including certificates for online attendees. In-person training can span 90 minutes to four full days of intense instruction all with the goal of increasing the ability to de-escalate situations without the use of deadly force or even physical entanglement.
AIM TO RECLAIM
According to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey, 58% of Americans say police around the country do an excellent or good job of protecting people from crime, while 39% say they do only a fair or poor job. However, there are significant racial and partisan differences in public opinion of police. These findings suggest that public opinion of police officers in the United States is complex and divided.
The concept of “community policing” has been used commonplace the last several years as a means to rebuild trust and relationship in communities where the connection between law enforcement and civilian is strained, but few departments ever make significant moves in accomplishing this renewal.
It is important to note that public opinion of police officers can be affected by a number of factors, including personal experiences with the police, media coverage of police misconduct, and political polarization. In recent years, there has been a great deal of media coverage of police shootings and other forms of police misconduct. This coverage has likely contributed to the decline in public trust in the police, especially among Black and Hispanic Americans.
Despite the challenges, there are a number of things that police departments can do to improve public trust, the first of which is learning how to communicate by both word and action. The three major steps a department can make in re-building relationships within the community are implementing de-escalation training, increasing transparency and increasing accountability.
De-escalation is more likely to lead to a peaceful resolution of a situation. When officers use de-escalation techniques, they are more likely to be able to resolve a situation without using force. This is because de-escalation techniques help to reduce the tension and anxiety in a situation, which makes it more likely that people will cooperate with the officers.
De-escalation is less likely to result in injury to the officers, the subject of the encounter, or bystanders. When officers use de-escalation techniques, they are less likely to need to use force, which reduces the risk of injury to everyone involved.
De-escalation techniques can be used every day to reclaim relations within the community. When officers use de-escalation techniques, they are more likely to be seen as professional and compassionate. This can help to build trust between the police and the community.
In addition to these general reasons, there are a number of specific legal reasons why law enforcement should use de-escalation techniques. For example, the Supreme Court has held that officers must use reasonable force when making an arrest. This means that officers must consider all of the circumstances of a situation, including the threat posed by the subject of the encounter, before using force. De-escalation techniques can help officers to avoid using force that is not reasonable.
Additionally, many states have passed laws that require law enforcement officers to receive training in de-escalation techniques. These laws reflect the growing recognition that de-escalation is an important part of effective law enforcement.
When law enforcement officers use de-escalation techniques, they are less likely to be sued for excessive force or other violations of the law. This is because de-escalation techniques show that the officers were trying to resolve the situation peacefully and avoid using force unless it was absolutely necessary.
REMEDY THE LEGACY
In addition to reclaiming law enforcement’s stance in the community, officers who understand the value of de-escalation are perceived as more compassionate. This perception creates less stress on the job and has been proven to lessen burn-out and stress amongst officers because they are able to connect with people on a human level and see them as more than just criminals.
A trained, compassionate cop may be more likely to take the time to listen to a person's concerns, even if the person is not suspected of a crime. This can help the community member feel respected and valued, and it can also help the officer to better understand situations.
Officers who have experienced de-escalation training may be more likely to offer help to a person in need, such as a homeless person or a person who is struggling with addiction. This can help to improve the person's life and make the community a better place. These officers can also be more likely to use de-escalation techniques to resolve even simple conflicts peacefully. This can reduce the risk of injury to the officer, the subject of the encounter, and bystanders.
Overall, with de-escalation training, it is possible to create a new world for both the officers and the community they serve as law enforcement rapidly builds trust, reduces crime, and uses force less often, all while being more satisfied with the decision to enter law enforcement.