Ramsey, Robinson Discuss Need To Improve Police Training In “People Skills”


NPR interviewed Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and former assistant attorney general Laurie Robinson, now at George Mason University, about the federal Task Force on 21st Century Policing that they lead. Robinson mentioned the possibility of tying “specific changes that the way training is done as a requirement for receiving federal grants in the area of criminal justice.” Also on training of police, Ramsey said, “We do a good job of training police in the mechanics of policing, [but] not necessarily spending enough time on the educational component, having officers understand the role of police in a democratic society. How do you establish trust?”

Robinson cited the need to train officers on how to de-escalate confrontations. “We’ve seen in many of the incidents that have sparked controversy that de-escalation could have been a very helpful skill for the officers to have had. Oftentimes, in training, there’s a lot of technical training, how to drive cars, how to shoot. But people skills are so critical.” On police use of force, Ramsey said, “The issue to me, is making sure that if officers do have to use force, that it’s only that force that’s appropriate based on the situation they find themselves in. If you do have to resort to deadly force, then your life or the life of another has to be in immediate jeopardy. And we’ve got to constantly train, constantly reinforce and hold people accountable if their actions fall outside of policy or guidelines.”

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