Seattle Incident Gets ‘De-Escalation’ Wrong

Outrage continues to grown in and outside of Seattle after the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) is expected to recommend discipline against Seattle Police Officer Nick Guzley after he tackled a man threatening others with a ice ax that he had stolen.

The charge against Guzley? He failed to de-escalate the situation?

Reports are surfacing that the Seattle Police Department Administration is supporting the officer.

Seattle Police Officers Guild president Kevin Stuckey confirmed the support from the administration and he believes that Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will reject the recommendation from the OPA.

The idea that a man walking the streets of Seattle with a deadly weapon is taken down, not by a police officer with a gun, but by a bear hug by a police officer, would draw commendation for the failure to “de-escalate” by the Office of Professional Accountability has many shaking their head but Travis Yates was not surprised.

Yates, the founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute and lead trainer at SAFETAC Training, said that in recent years the decision makers in law enforcement have gone to new levels of crazy.

“For one, almost everyone gets the issue of de-escalation wrong,” Yates told us in an exclusive interview in regards to this incident.

“De-escalation does not mean force doesn’t occur and it certainly is not a new concept as some would like everyone to think.  De-escalation is a method, in an attempt to gain compliance from someone.  It actually takes two to de-escalate but it’s the police officer that continues to get the blame when force is used.”

Yates continued, “De-escalation is also not using a lesser means of force that places additional danger on the officer or the citizens.  We actually saw that in this case and while I do not agree in disciplining the officer, we need to call this what it was and it most definitely was not de-escalation….it was more like a split second decision made in the middle of a high stress event.”

Yates concluded that “the magic word de-escalation will never prevent force from being used.  Ultimately, law enforcement should do everything possible, in the safest manner possible, to avoid force but until citizens stop displaying violent behavior towards law enforcement and citizens, police use of force will never stop and anyone that believes it should in the midst of violence is simply ignorant.”

You can find out more of Yates’ thoughts on de-escalation and use of force in his seminar, Seconds4Survival.


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