Baltimore Episode Shows How De-Escalation Can Work

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Police officers in the U.S. have shot and killed 847 people so far this year. Mental illness played a role in a quarter of the incidents, according to a Washington Post analysis, and 19 out of 20 victims of police violence were armed in some way. Some police departments offer de-escalation training to their officers, teaching them to defuse potentially dangerous situations and get armed individuals to lay down their weapons. Most states, however, don’t require such training, instead leaving the decision to local agencies, The Intercept reports.

The Baltimore Police Department is one agency that teaches de-escalation tactics. A recent example of an officer there successfully defusing a potentially violent situation in Baltimore, captured by a police bodycam, shows that these techniques do indeed save lives — and raises the question of why states don’t mandate this training. Baltimore officer Angel Villaronga last month encountered a distraught man with a knife who appeared to be suicidal, encouraging Villaronga to shoot him. The Intercept describes how the incident evolved, ending with the suspect dropping his knife and surrendering.

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