The chair of the criminal justice department of Madison College says the research he conducted for his master’s thesis shows de-escalation policies are a valuable tool in an officer’s toolbox, but argues they’re not the best tool.
De-escalation policies require officers to slow things down and attempt to lessen or avoid force on all calls.
“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,” Brian Landers, author of the study tells WISC-TV.
Landers’ 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.
“I’ve had officers tell me that they are forced with decisions out on the street that go against every facet of training and instinct of officer safety from fear they are going to be disciplined because the policy is telling them that they should not use force,” Landers tells WISC-TV.
Landers, a former police officer, says de-escalation techniques have always been used in the past, but says the current trend to make them the No. 1 consideration is not the best way to go.
“They are dealing with people that are high on heroin and fentanyl. They are dealing with a wide variety of other types of mental illness and alcoholism where people are raging, violent and uncontrollable,” Landers tells WISC-TV.
Although studies conducted by police in the past make claims these policies increase officer safety, Landers argues to the contrary.
“Overall an officer working in a de-escalation agency, by my study, 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,” Landers tells WISC-TV.
“Hopefully my research is going to be a call for policymakers to strongly look at any type of policy that they have and make sure that their policies are not threatening their own officers.”
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