New York City’s police department, the largest in the United States, will train all 35,000 of its officers in de-escalation techniques, using the Police Executive Research Forum’s Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics (ICAT) approach to reduce violent encounters and injuries to both officers and citizens, reports the Washington Post. The ICAT theory rejects the long-held police tactic of meeting force with greater force, though it doesn’t apply in situations where someone has a gun.
While the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings shows that since 2015, about 40 percent of people killed didn’t have a gun, experts say that de-escalation can aid in reducing that number. For officers long trained in the “use-of-force continuum,” the fear is often expressed that not using force will get them wounded or killed.
However, a study released last fall by University of Cincinnati criminologist Robin S. Engel examined the Louisville Metro Police Department before and after it received PERF’s ICAT training in de-escalation and found 28 percent fewer use-of-force incidents by officers, 26 percent fewer injuries to citizens and 36 percent fewer injuries to officers. The goal is to start a conversation, to calm the subject rather than confront them, while maintaining a safe distance from them and waiting for more resources rather than promptly seeking an arrest.
New modules on reducing “suicide by cop” with similar tactics, and on intervening in situations where other officers may be using force inappropriately have also been added.
Additional Reading: Why Police Training Needs to Evolve–and How, The Crime Report, March 26, 2021