Non/De-Escalation Training:  A Gap in Training in your Organization?

Hi Everyone.  Robert Whiteside here.

Please see this (link below) recent article in the Washington Post.  It speaks to the value of de-escalation training, the need for it to become a more standard part of training for all Public Safety and Law Enforcement agencies, and the resistance toward it from some.

Considering the points of this article, I share that it’s an interesting experience working, first, in law enforcement, and now overseeing a force of healthcare Security Officers and healthcare-specific Law Enforcement Officers.  All of our non-sworn Security staff do not carry firearms (though they are trained to carry other intervention tools).  And these non-sworn Security Officers constitute the bulk of our force.

As these non-sworn personnel lack a firearm (though they possess other less-than-lethal tools), their Verbal Defense & Influence (VDI) training which they all receive prepares them to handle most any event without any physical use of force whatsoever.  They handle extremely volatile situations daily such as the management of very violent psychiatric patients.  Without these trained and practiced verbal communication and conflict management skills, we would very likely have many more physical hands-on use of force events than we do.

Public Safety and Law Enforcement Officers routinely tell us that they (the Public Safety & Law Enforcement staff) either would not or cannot deal as expertly with the things our personnel deal with daily, that is, with “just” the skillful use of communication.  Plainly put, after working in this field for many years, it’s obvious that our non-sworn healthcare security staff have much more professionally developed non/de-escalation skills than the average Public Safety and Law Enforcement Officer.

Let’s come back to the article above.  What is the deficit or push back within the ranks of Public Safety and Law Enforcement in America in reference to embracing, in a greater or new way, professional verbal non/de-escalation skills?  Is it a belief that using verbal non/de-escalation skills compromise Officer Safety?  If it is, I would argue that this just means the verbal non/de-escalation training, and how it’s embedded and trained in the overall use of force policy/training of an agency, is simply not sophisticated enough.

Or is the push back due perhaps to some collective ego of Public Safety and Law Enforcement, wherein there is the perceived need to maintain power, along with a deeply held and unhelpful sense of us versus them.  I think there is something to these points, and hence the need to hire high-quality Public Safety and Law Enforcement candidates so that Public Safety and Law Enforcement culture in the United States can evolve in a positive direction.

One can measurably track the benefits of training staff (any field) in high-quality non/de-escalation training such as the Verbal Defense & Influence (VDI) program.  These benefits include: increased personal safety, decreased use of force incidents, decreased injury rates, decreased workman’s comp claims, enhanced professionalism, decreased complaints, decreased vicarious liability, less stress, court power and articulation, and increased staff morale.  These benefits cannot be ignored.

I’d love to hear back from others on how they are ushering into their organizations and agencies high quality verbal communication and conflict management training.

Across the board, we must improve.