‘De-escalation of Conflict’ curriculum to reduce police shootings

chicago protest

A Chicago protest against police

Police officers have a tough job. A job that is stressful, volatile and inherently dangerous. They must protect the safety and well-being of the public while also ensuring the safety of their own. Police officers as well as other members of law enforcement often face challenging situations where they find themselves in conflict with citizens.  Failure to manage these stressful and anger-provoking interactions efficiently may place them at risk for impulsive and overly aggressive behavior. Pre-existing anger triggers and fears can affect judgment and lead to incident that cannot be reversed. Proper management of these situations requires self-awareness of one’s own triggers and behaviors as well as the necessary skills and techniques to de-escalate and resolve conflict.

To safeguard the mental and physical health of officers, the physical well-being of the public, and promote a good relationship between the public and members of law enforcement, the Diversion Center created the De-escalation of Conflict Curriculum.

The De-escalation of Conflict curriculum was created to decrease episodes of excessive force, fear, anger, and aggressive behavior.  It is authored by Derek Collins, an African American counselor who felt the need to provide a solution to a complexed problem.

By using this curriculum police officers will be able to facilitate groups to other officers and hold each other accountable. In addition, it will highlight the police department’s commitment to training and instrumentation of fair, effective, policing practices.

Curriculum Objectives

  • Understand the process of anger and how it impacts an officer’s judgement.
  • Examine, confront, and reduce fear.
  • Increase cultural sensitivity and respect.
  • Understand how excessive force puts an officer’s career, freedom, and life at risk.
  • Recognize the impact of domestic violence and adverse childhood experiences.
  • Help manage and control responses to anger.
  • Change perceptions, values, thought management, and conditioning.
  • Help reduce negative emotional hijacking.
  • Evaluate on the job scenarios to help improve decision making.
  • Promote self-awareness, preventative strategies, social skills, and personal development.

Below is sample from the chapter on Decision Making Scenarios. This exercise helps officers practice their decision making skills.

Example #1: You and other police officers have responded to a domestic disturbance. The suspect has been tased and tackled by multiple officers in an effort to put handcuffs on him.  While this is happening a neighbor who is witnessing the event is yelling out saying things like “police brutality” and “pigs.”  He states that the neighbor is a nice guy and shouldn’t be treated this way.  What the neighbor does not know is that the suspect is being arrested after physically abusing his step-daughter and her mother to the point where the child will need major reconstructive surgery.  How do you handle this situation?

Example #2: You are pursuing a suspect on a high speed chase.  In the process you almost flip your car and potentially seriously injure yourself or even die.  You finally get the suspect who resists and doesn’t make putting on the cuffs easy.  How do you handle this situation? – PRNewswire

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