Law enforcement agencies are now embracing a strategy of de-escalation, reports USA Today. In Los Angeles, cops are immersed in “preservation of life” training. In Kansas City, it’s called “tactical disengagement.” San Diego police, are developing a curriculum to emphasize a strategy known as “emotional intelligence.” The rush of new training is geared to slow encounters between officers and the public, which in the past year has prompted spasms of civil unrest and contributed to an erosion of public trust in local law enforcement. Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum said the growing de-escalation movement represents “the biggest change” in use of force policy by police agencies in recent history. “What is happening now is right at the front end of a movement,” Wexler said. “There is a sense that whatever (police) had been doing out there was not good enough.”
In Leesburg, Va., Police Chief Joseph Price said he could no longer ignore a stream of troubling images featuring police in violent clashes with suspects, from Washington state to South Carolina. “The North Charleston (S.C.) shooting, clearly, was the last straw,” said Price, referring to the April fatal shooting of Walter Scott, 50, after an encounter with local officer Michael Slager. A video of the incident, recorded by a witness, appears to show Scott running from Slager when he was shot in the back. This year, every Leesburg officer was required to view troubling footage drawn from a series of violent clashes involving police around the nation.