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WI – LE – Police De-escalation Training: Too Little, Too Late?

Cities often increase de-escalation training for officers after a shooting, but there is less focus on de-escalation in police academies, reports the Wall Street Journal. De-escalation, when police use nonviolent measures to defuse conflict before using force, is in the spotlight after the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday by Kenosha, Wi., police.  Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers proposed that officers take at least eight hours of de-escalation and use-of-force training each year, a measures he is calling the legislature into session to consider. Cleveland police added training aimed at reducing the use of force after a federal investigation and a white officer’s fatally shooting Tamir Rice, a Black 12-year-old boy carrying a plastic pellet gun. “We expect officers to de-escalate, to de-escalate, to de-escalate prior to any use of force, and we’ve held officers accountable if they haven’t done that,” said Police Chief Calvin Williams. The city’s police recorded 237  use of force incidents in 2017, 32 percent fewer than in 2015. There hasn’t been a large scale study of the effectiveness of de-escalation training. Cadets are typically trained on firearm skills, defensive tactics, intricacies of the law and how to write a police report. The last time the Bureau of Justice Statistics polled training academies, in 2013, it found they provide an average nine training hours on conflict management of 843 classroom hours. In Kenosha, a video showed Blake rounding an SUV as officers followed with weapons drawn. An officer screams, “drop the knife.” His family attorney said he was checking on his children. Prof. David Harris of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law said de-escalation efforts would have had to come before the point when the camera was turned on. “It’s pretty tough to justify shooting a person in the back when they have nothing in their hands that’s visible,” he said.  [view source]

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