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Training for De-escalation of Force

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 57 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1990) Pages: 37-39
J Nicoletti
Date Published
3 pages
This paper studies the officer's perceptual framework and his arousal when confronted with a potentially violent situation.
An officer who perceives a threat will act on that perception even if none exists. An officer's arousal level refers to the physiological and psychological changes that occur when he is under stress. The first phase of the project was to design a law enforcement survey that was sent to all the law enforcement agencies in Colorado. The survey results showed that the responding law enforcement agencies believe that factors other than inherent aggressiveness may cause an officer to use unappropriate force in potentially threatening situations. This could be corrected by providing better and more training which would include a combination of self-control skills, self-defense/arrest control and verbal/negotiation skills. The second phase of the project involved observing law enforcement and training academy classes to determine how these classes either facilitate or interfere with acquiring skills in the de-escalation of force. The third part of the project involved conducting a trial run of de-escalation skills as part of an officer survival course. In developing skills with de-escalation of force there are several critical factors; an officer must have sufficient training and practice in all the techniques, and the practice must occur when he is in a physical state of arousal. There are several factors that are necessary to help an officer properly access and respond to a threat. The first step is pre-employment screening which should attempt to eliminate individuals who are predisposed to overreact or underreact to situations. Another factor is repetitive training in the areas of both physical/tactical skills and verbal/negotiating skills. Officers should also be trained in the physiology and psychology of the mind and body in stressful situations.