De-escalation of Force Training – Does it Work?

By By Rob Zapansky at On-the-Beat | Tue, 20 Sep 2016

With the rash of sniper attacks against police appearing across the country, some police officers are asking “… is this really the time to focus on de-escalation of force efforts.” “What about our protection?”

Of course, peace officers and the communities they serve grieve these losses. Nevertheless, to despair is not helpful or productive. These shooters are responding to foreign and domestic terror groups that are race-baiting and fomenting a hatred of police, while pointing to “COP shootings” as proof of their so-called “oppression.” In the face of these events many state and local enforcement agencies are updating their use of force policy and procedures and training innovations to curb this trend. Why? For two primary reasons. The first reason is to give officers a bundle of de-escalation tools to use when it is tactically practical and safe to do so; and second, to point to such efforts and training when there is an event that grabs public attention and headlines.

Take for example the efforts of Dallas Police Department. In 2009, the department received 147 excessive force complaints and made 74,000 arrests. After policy changes and de-escalation training for officers, within three years arrests were down 18% and within five years excessive force complaints dropped by a whopping 64% (53 complaints).

David Salmon II, the state Training Coordinator of OSS Academy in Spring, Texas told On-the-Beat that de-escalation is not a replacement for current use of force training, but rather “provides new tools for responding officers.” “When an officer’s situational assessment indicates it is practical and safe, the officer may try to slow the action down and avoid using additional force.” “In this innovative approach, we are actually merging de-escalation into our force continuum.” They do this by not immediately running into a situation, but rather taking a little more calculated time talking over a strategy with fellow officers and approaching a suspect. Generally a strategy is to have just one officer talk with a suspect. Often these offenders are under the influence of drugs.

A review of the OSS Academy web-site at indicates that there is a state accredited De-Escalation of Force course available to officers that they can even complete online.


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