Changes in police training after the killing of Dallas police officers “will focus on responding to sudden ambushes rather than building the type of long-term positive community relationships that avoid violence against officers in the first place,” says University of South Carolina law Prof. Seth Stoughton, a former officer himself. Stoughton notes that for most officers now, the single largest block of training relates to use of force, an average of just over 120 hours. There also are an average of eight hours of de-escalation and conflict avoidance training in police academies, reports NPR.
Officer safety or officer survival training often starts on the first day of the police academy where police cadets see gripping and horrifying videos of other officers being severely beaten or killed. The lessons revolve around one basic principle – policing is dangerous, and if you get complacent, you will die, Stoughton says. Surveying police training around the U.S., he says some police departments have been very responsive to community concerns and have changed training to ensure that officers are doing what the public expects them to do, including the avoidance of force when it’s possible to do so. Some agencies have gone the other way, writing off community concerns as uninformed or politically motivated, rather than valid criticisms of a public service institution and profession.