Many recent controversial police shootings could have been avoided, even though they may have been legally justifiable, according to a report issued by a top law enforcement organization this week.
The Police Executive Research Forum, a research and policy group whose members include commanders from the largest U.S. police departments, said officers generally receive far too little training in de-escalating conflict and often are embedded in a culture that encourages them to rapidly resort to physical force.
Re-Engineering Training On Police Use of Force
Many recent high-profile police shootings have been legally justified, but there are sometimes "missed opportunities to ratchet down the encounter, to slow things down, to call in additional resources," Chuck Wexler, executive director of the group, wrote in the report.
It's no wonder. Disengagement and patience, the report found, are "sometimes seen as antithetical" to traditional police culture.
"Some officers, with the best intentions, think that their job is to go into a situation, take charge of it, and resolve it as quickly as you can," Wexler wrote. "Sometimes there is a feeling of competitiveness about it. If an officer slows a situation down and calls for assistance, there is sometimes a feeling that other responding officers will think, 'What, you couldn’t handle this yourself?'"
The study found that many police agencies give officers extensive training on how to shoot a gun, but officers spend "much less time" learning the "importance of de-escalation tactics and Crisis Intervention strategies for dealing with mentally ill persons, homeless persons, and other challenging situations."