SLC Police Department De-Escalation Training
A friend showed me a video the other day that really struck me. The video gave information about a de-escalation training program implemented by the Salt Lake City Police Department to reduce the number of police involved fatal shootings. The training teaches the officers to create distance between he/she and the criminal in order to buy time. The extra time helps both parties to calm down and think more rationally. The training is working; the Salt Lake City Police Department hasn’t had any fatal shootings in over a year.
Maybe you feel skeptical about this training–I did, too. I always hear reports of Utah being one of the safest places in America. I decided to look up some stats about Salt Lake. According to areavibes.com, Salt Lake City has an F Rating for crime. There are 27.91 crimes committed per 100,000 people daily in Salt Lake. That is pretty grim when we compare it to the likes of Detroit (16.04 daily crimes per 100,000 people) and Chicago (10.55 daily crimes per 100,000 people). Crime in Salt Lake is right there with the other dangerous cities of the US, and definitely on the rise.
So how does this de-escalation training work? One of the most important aspect of the department’s new training is buying time. This is the core of the training because those few seconds save lives. Those few seconds allow the officer (and offender) to detach themselves from the situation and consider viable options for ending the conflict. It takes training, though. For example, in the video (see link below) the officer stays behind his car door for the first few seconds, not only to create a barrier that could act as a shield, but also to force him to “give ground” between him and the offender.
This distance is how the officer buys time to calm down and behave more rationally. The human instinct in these moments of danger is to act quickly and impulsively. That is why there are so many fatalities. Both parties feel vulnerable and therefore, more often than not, shots are fired. But because the officers are being trained to create distance and buy time, there are fewer fatal shootings.
Body Armor: Enabling Rational Rather Than Impulsive Behavior
Although the video didn’t address body armor, it’s something that really gives you a leg up in high-stress crisis situations. Just like how the officer uses the car to give ground and buy time, body armor can accomplish the same thing. You feel more confident in body armor to act rationally in a crisis situation. That confidence buys you time, and though it only makes a few seconds difference, that is all the time you need to transition from an impulse-based to a rational-based plan of action. If you are in a dangerous situation, but know you are protected with body armor, your brain will not be overloaded with thoughts of vulnerability. That protection is key to buying yourself time to act rationally in a crisis and walk away with the least amount of fatalities and injuries possible.