Sep 25, 2018
By Lt. Jefforey D. Williams, North Carolina State University Police Department
IACLEA member institution North Carolina State University Police Department (NCSU PD) hosted a non-escalation, de-escalation, and crisis intervention course provided by Vistelar August 13–16, 2018. Participants and NC State incurred no expenses, because the project was covered by the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC), a project funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) in partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, IACLEA, and seven other law enforcement organizations.
Seventeen students attended the four-day course, representing North Carolina State University Police Department, North Carolina Central University Police Department, Fayetteville State University Police Department, Janesville (Wisconsin) Police Department, and Occidental College (California) Campus Safety.
"I've been in law enforcement for more than 20 years, and, like most police officers, I developed my communication skills through trial and error,” said Lt. Randy Dolliver, NCSUPD Support Services Division. "The course provided me with easily understood communication principles within a framework that is simple to implement and can be easily replicated day after day. This is something that should be taught to recruits in every basic school."
The course emphasized two significant concepts for approaching members of the public: 1) display respect and empathy and 2) respond vs. react.
Students learned how to more effectively show people respect and empathy. Trainees were coached to acknowledge constituents’ perspective by attempting to see the world through their eyes, listening to what they say, and observing their current mental and physical condition. We also learned to show respect by seeking understanding through asking relevant questions. Then, we learned to anticipate their needs and give them options from which to choose, and if necessary, give them an opportunity to reconsider their choice.
The second concept is to respond rather than react. Reactions are based in emotion and frequently perceived as unprofessional, whereas, a response is well thought out and professional. Participants learned that officers can modulate their behavior by learning to get into the proper mindset before each public, professional, or personal contact. Then the officer learned to respond rather than react to common scenarios or conflict triggers they may face daily by scripting each scenario on paper. These realistic scripts include:
- a common greeting
- safety tactics to be used at ten, five, and two-feet distances
- things members of the public may say to us to trigger conflict
- how to acknowledge the conflict trigger and then redirect the conversation to professional communication.
The scripts also include persuasion techniques that provide the person with whom we are communicating:
- an explanation for the rule/policy/law
- confirm that they understand the explanation
- positive and negative options based on their cooperation
- and an opportunity to reconsider their decision should they choose a course of action that would result in the negative option.
To improve proficiency and become comfortable with being recorded, students took their personal daily experiences and wrote five to ten scripts per day, which we then role-played on audio and video recordings. Vistelar instructors evaluated these practice sessions, ensuring the student did not leave anything out, that the word choice and tone were appropriate, that the script was supportive and showed concern, and that the non-verbal aspects conveyed a supportive atmosphere with a safety focus.
Personnel from participating agencies that attended the course will benefit by providing their officers with the tools to:
- Provide better customer service
- Predict, prevent, and mitigate conflict
- Avert verbal and physical attacks
- De-escalate conflict
- Control crisis and aggression
- Realize they are constantly being recorded and to conduct themselves in a manner that will be positive and professional on social media.
Your agency may be eligible for technical assistance services through CRI-TAC. For a list of topic areas, information about the initiative, or to submit a request, visit https://www.iaclea.org/collaborative-reform-initiative-technical-assistance-center.
In addition to IACLEA and IACP, the following organizations are collaborating on this initiative: Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy Associates, International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, Major Cities Chiefs Association, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and National Tactical Officers Association.
Dave Young (Vistelar), NCSU PD Chief Jack Moorman, Von Kliem (Vistelar), Pablo Velazquez (Vistelar), Rebecca Stickley (IACP), Dominique Burton (IACP), and NCSU PD Lt. Jefforey D. Williams take a break from the training for a photo.
Participants in the non-escalation, de-escalation, and crisis intervention course at IACLEA member institution North Carolina State University.