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Research Indicates De-Escalation Policies Place Officers At More Risk

Research Indicates De-Escalation Policies Place Officers At More Risk

A research project shows that law-enforcement officers working for agencies with de-escalation policies are far more likely to killed or injured in the line of duty.

News 3 reports that the study looked at metropolitan law enforcement agencies around the country; some have de-escalation policies while others do not.  It used data from more than 75,000 officers over a five-year period.

“The agencies without de-escalation policies, the number of officers killed and assaulted were dramatically lower than the agencies with de-escalation policies in place,” said Brian Landers, author of the study.

Landers, a former police officer, is chair of the criminal justice department of Madison College.

Landers says that de-escalation is a very valuable tool for law enforcement officers but it cannot take priority over officer safety.

He found that an officer working in a de-escalation agency, was twice as likely to be killed in the line of duty and 10 times more likely to be injured in the line of duty.

Law Officer Editor In Chief says that the term “de-escalation” is one of the most abused and misunderstood terms in policing today.

“People think that if law enforcement trains and practices de-escalation that somehow use of force will just stop and what they forget is that it takes two parties to de-escalate.  Law enforcement has been training and implementing de-escalation for decades and use of force has remained because some in the public refuses to de-escalate,” Yates said.

Yates calls for a “common sense” approach to de-escalation that does not place police officers in more harm than they already are.

You can read the full report here.

 

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10 Comments

  1. AJSprof

    Landers’ thesis may be found on Google Scholar. The title is: AN ANALYSIS OF A NATION-WIDE USE OF FORCE.

  2. sociologact

    The Studies I am aware of show no increase of risk when there is a rigorous training program on deescalation coupled with a system of accountability. As there is no citation of any study in this report, it’s hard to assess it.

  3. Jeff Golden

    There is no evidence that de-escalation policies place officers at higher risk for injury or death. There is no published, peer-reviewed research showing any causal connection or correlation between the existence of de-escalation policies and officer injuries and death. Mr. Landers report presents data that shows only that an increase in officer injuries and deaths occurred around the same time their agencies changed use of force polices to require use of de-escalation techniques. The data shows the two things occurred at the same time and nothing more. There is no statistical analysis or proof that the policy change caused or is related to the increase in injuries and death and the report clearly states that other factors which might influenced the conclusions were not examined. The report’s conclusions, therefore, lack the rigor of a robust analysis and are erroneous in finding that one and only one factor, de-escalation policies, caused an increase in officer injuries and deaths.

    We should all agree that there is no sense in policies that mandate officers to employ de-escalation techniques in all situations. PERF’s desire for a national policy on de-escalation is highly unlikely to occur. Clear and present dangers require officers to take necessary actions which may or may not include de-escalation techniques and there should never be a commandment to attempt to de-escalate a person pointing a gun at an officer. The choice to do so should always remain with the officer who can evaluate the totality of circumstances.

    An interview with Mr. Landers, found at http://www.channel3000.com/news/research-shows-de-escalation-policies-put-officer-safety-at-risk/605278919 clearly shows that he believes de-escalation is a very valuable tool but he also believes that requiring all officers to use it as the first tool on every call is inappropriate. As a law enforcement de-escalation trainer, attorney and criminal justice professor of 20 years, I concur. Mr. Landers is an accomplished officer and instructor (not the chair of the CJ Dept as stated in the article) at Madison Technical College. His report is a project required for a master’s degree and is not, as stated, a thesis that would have been much more rigorously researched and vetted to reveal its significant issues in both methodology and conclusions.

    Peer-reviewed published articles from criminal justice researchers are the gold standard for drawing evidence based conclusions. Two such articles, each examining how changes in policy relating to use of force impacted officers and departments, could be seen to contradict Mr. Landers’ report. A 2016 study published in Police Quarterly titled “Do Changes in TASER Use Policy Affect Police Officer Injury Rates?” found policy changes restricting the use of TASERS resulted in slightly increased officer injuries in some districts as well as a decrease in officer injuries in other districts within the same major department. The authors concluded “[p]erhaps the most important revelation in these results is that if the change in DPD TASER policy did influence officer injuries, the effect appears to vary between patrol divisions.” Womak, Morris & Bishopp, p.429. Policy does matter in lowering injury rates to both officers and the public. Terrill and Paoline showed in “Police Use of Less Lethal Force: Does Administrative Policy Matter?” Justice Quarterly (2016) that policies can make a significant difference in use of force and that strong policies backed by training can result in less use of force and injuries and better police-public relations.

    There is a real policy issue that needs to be researched here: how can departments improve policies, training and officer interactions with angry individuals and avoid use of force? Toward that end, sound research and evidence based de-escalation training that fits with existing use of force models is essential. Law enforcement agencies should invest in validated, research-based de-escalation training with proven results and acceptance. See http://www.de-escalate.org for law enforcement de-escalation training that is research and evidence based and supported by independent university evaluation.

  4. eric

    STOP looking for an excuse to harm black and practice WHITE SUPREMACY as a RACE SOLDIER.

    • Samuel Fivey

      Can you please explain to me how an article about a report on research into so-called de-escalation policies and the impacts they have on officers equals the practice of white supremacy? I’m genuinely curious about the path you traveled to reach that conclusion.

  5. Jeff Golden

    This is a poorly researched, written and captioned story that is filled with inaccuracies.

    There is no evidence that de-escalation policies place officers at higher risk for injury or death. There is no published, peer-reviewed research showing any causal connection or correlation between the existence of de-escalation policies and officer injuries and death. Mr. Landers report presents data that shows only that an increase in officer injuries and deaths occurred around the same time their agencies changed use of force polices to require use of de-escalation techniques. The data shows the two things occurred at the same time and nothing more. There is no statistical analysis or proof that the policy change caused or is related to the increase in injuries and death and the report clearly states that other factors which might influenced the conclusions were not examined. The report’s conclusions, therefore, lack the rigor of a robust analysis and are erroneous in finding that one and only one factor, de-escalation policies, caused an increase in officer injuries and deaths.

    We should all agree that there is no sense in policies that mandate officers to employ de-escalation techniques in all situations. PERF’s desire for a national policy on de-escalation is highly unlikely to occur. Clear and present dangers require officers to take necessary actions which may or may not include de-escalation techniques and there should never be a commandment to attempt to de-escalate a person pointing a gun at an officer. The choice to do so should always remain with the officer who can evaluate the totality of circumstances.

    An interview with Mr. Landers, found at http://www.channel3000.com/news/research-shows-de-escalation-policies-put-officer-safety-at-risk/605278919 clearly shows that he believes de-escalation is a very valuable tool but he also believes that requiring all officers to use it as the first tool on every call is inappropriate. As a law enforcement de-escalation trainer, attorney and criminal justice professor of 20 years, I concur. Mr. Landers is an accomplished officer and instructor (not the chair of the CJ Dept as stated in the article) at Madison Technical College. His report is a project required for a master’s degree and is not, as stated, a thesis that would have been much more rigorously researched and vetted to reveal its significant issues in both methodology and conclusions.

    Peer-reviewed published articles from criminal justice researchers are the gold standard for drawing evidence based conclusions. Two such articles, each examining how changes in policy relating to use of force impacted officers and departments, could be seen to contradict Mr. Landers’ report. A 2016 study published in Police Quarterly titled “Do Changes in TASER Use Policy Affect Police Officer Injury Rates?” found policy changes restricting the use of TASERS resulted in slightly increased officer injuries in some districts as well as a decrease in officer injuries in other districts within the same major department. The authors concluded “[p]erhaps the most important revelation in these results is that if the change in DPD TASER policy did influence officer injuries, the effect appears to vary between patrol divisions.” Womak, Morris & Bishopp, p.429. Policy does matter in lowering injury rates to both officers and the public. Terrill and Paoline showed in “Police Use of Less Lethal Force: Does Administrative Policy Matter?” Justice Quarterly (2016) that policies can make a significant difference in use of force and that strong policies backed by training can result in less use of force and injuries and better police-public relations.

    There is a real policy issue that needs to be researched here: how can departments improve policies, training and officer interactions with angry individuals and avoid use of force? Toward that end, sound research and evidence based de-escalation training that fits with existing use of force models is essential. Law enforcement agencies should invest in validated, research-based de-escalation training with proven results and acceptance. See http://www.de-escalate.org for law enforcement de-escalation training that is research and evidence based and supported by independent university evaluation.

  6. Samuel Fivey

    Aside from wanting to see the research, I have to wonder if in those agencies it is apparent to the officers and deputies that their administrations will sacrifice them to appease the ignorant and biased. And then based on those concerns officers are failing to act soon enough.

  7. LegalBeagle

    Duh. If anyone is surprised by this, they are a fool.

    • Katrina

      One example, Denver has a committee of civilians writing policy and procedure for their department–no police officers. Pretty much the Fox designing the Hen House. Crazy. An officer can attempt deescalation, but if the subject isn’t having it, it is time to move on to something that actually works before the subject has the chance to plan their escape or attack.

      • LegalBeagle

        Exactly. BTW, with regard to that issue (I’ve read a few reports on it), it is really hard to refrain from helping people understand the difference between Tourette’s and a choice. Some of that is a reflection of not having good outreach that educates the citizen consumers and the media about what the reality and law are.

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