De-Escalation Training: How Can You Train New Recruits Who Do Not (Yet) Have The Gift Of Gab?

De-escalation training, more than ever, is consequential for law enforcement. This comes in the wake of recent controversial incidents that highlight officer use of force that were met with adverse public reaction.

Increasing public backlash and the pressing desire to reduce risks for officers and citizens alike have inevitably led law enforcement to reassess their roles.

Training and Job Reality Mismatch

There is a clear mismatch between how law enforcement officers are trained versus the actual demands of their job. This is where the fundamental issue with law enforcement training lies. We train our officers for a role that is not clearly proportional to the one society expects them to play.

A survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum revealed that for every one hour of training allocated to teaching and practicing de-escalation techniques, there were eight hours of training allocated to learning about using some type of force. Recruits are trained in academies whose training philosophies are anchored on the deployment of force and law, and are always equipped with dangerous weapons. Training then should be restructured to incorporate an increased focus on conflict de-escalation and crisis intervention.

When Trainees Lack the Gift of Gab

Law enforcement officers are given the difficult and often dangerous job to resolve or de-escalate tense and hostile situations. In many circumstances they regularly face, the right words, spoken in the right manner, can either calm a situation or at least earn compliance. This is where one’s verbal communication skills come into play. Unfortunately, not all of them are equipped with the ability to articulate their thoughts effectively and confidently.

However, it is important to note that one’s communication skills are not the be-all and end-all of the de-escalation process. When needed, physical action is also an essential part of de-escalation.

Training Recruits for the Reality

As new recruits spend a bulk of their time cultivating their firearm proficiency and combative skills, they sometimes don’t develop sufficient verbal de-escalation skills that are critical in resolving conflicts in actual crises. Hence, continued education is a must.

Training solutions like virtual simulators place trainees in an immersive environment that increases realism of training, heightening awareness and proper use of force responses. Virtual simulators that have de-escalation scenarios, where officers must “talk down” a potentially violent suspect could greatly enhance new recruits’ verbal de-escalation skills. By simulating different situations, going through the necessary steps, and getting objective feedback on their performance, they will be more prepared to deal with extremely stressful scenarios in the future.

InVeris’ VR-DT Virtual Training System, for example, brings the power of virtual reality police training, scenario authoring, and simulated weapons to a 3D environment. It offers a realistic scenario library, with branching outcomes — from offices to schools, jails, traffic stops and domestics. The VR video content offers all applications, from use-of-force, de-escalation or active shooter, to person-in-crisis response.

With its enhanced capabilities like Push to Talk (PPT) technology, it allows trainees to engage in a conversation with the suspect, role-played by the instructor. Depending on the trainee’s actions, the instructor can branch the scenarios to escalate or de-escalate the situation. It’s After Action Review (AAR) enables instructors to review their decision-making skills to ensure proper tactics are used from any angle.

Contact us to learn more about InVeris’ Virtual Training Systems and how they can meet your training requirements.

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