After the Webinar: De-Escalation – Strategies, Impacts and Implications for Criminal Justice. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Dr. Marlena Orsosco, Dane Sorensen, and Dr. Michael White answered a number of your questions after their presentation, De-Escalation: Strategies, Impacts, and Implications for Criminal Justice.  Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: As an animal control officer? How can we get training for de-escalation? We’re not into the police department, but rather under the board of health, should we talk and ask our local police department? 

Carlena Orosco: I think that’s a great question and I’ll actually defer to Commander Sorensen as well. But through our exploration of existing training. And we noticed that there was quite a bit of availability in terms of them, and though they may have not been labeled as de-escalation, whether it crisis-related or related to communication skills, there’s a lot of training that is available. But I would say I think it’s a great idea to maybe partner with your local police department or a neighboring agency that is offering some type of de-escalation or perhaps talk to them about how they can access the training. I think it’s really incredibly important to do that, especially in an animal control setting, where emotions are high, and there are a lot of different moving parts. So, I think partnering with a local agency or another organization that has something available, and although, as we mentioned earlier, there’s not a ton of this available. But I think we will start to grow. And I know there are other training programs that relate to, whether it’s communication or emotional intelligence that might be beneficial.

Dane Sorensen: I think you nailed it. I would, I don’t know where you work, but I would find an agency that you work with quite a bit or maybe, or on your calls quite a bit. If they have some sort of de-escalation training, it might be worth getting some of your trainers in with them. Just you could even sell it to help us operate, and understand how the police department operates. This could help us integrate better. And then you could bring that back to your agency and come up with something that matches more what you’re trying to accomplish, I think the framework works across a lot of different industries one of our citizen review panel members took the de-escalation training and molded it into a hospital setting when she went through, so it works all over. I’d find something, take what you can, and use this framework to come up with something that’s appropriate for your interest.

Michael White: You know when we looked around at the beginning of this project for de-escalation training models, we saw quite a bit that was outside of policing, quite a bit of de-escalation training for teachers, for nurses. So, making the case that this is just for cops, really hasn’t worked for me. There are a lot of professions, a lot of industries like Dan said, where this, this is highly relevant. So, I would make a strong case with your supervisors, and try to get this.


Audience Question: Is there an opportunity for external agencies to come to Tempe to take your training? 

Dane Sorensen: Yup. Shoot me an e-mail or you see my e-mail address up there. We’ve had several other agencies come in and attend our training right now since we got the whole department trained up. We’re bringing it to our new folks when they get hired, then we do a refresher in the fall and the spring with our Advance Officer Training. But shoot me an e-mail will work out something, and I’ll get back to you.


Audience Question: Should the standard remain the same for dealing with juveniles in de-escalation? 

Dane Sorensen: I’ll take a stab at that. What our de-escalation model puts into the account, is what kind of call are you going to. There is no set standard between juveniles and adults, but each situation is unique, and they need to come up with a plan and assessment to handle each situation differently. And the lines of communication obviously changed when we’re dealing with young adults and parents, depending on what kind of setting you’re in. So, officers are expected to basically be adaptable, be innovative, and come up with a solution for each outcome. So, we don’t teach specifically the difference between juveniles and adults.


Audience Question: What kind of de-escalation or CIT-type training did Tempe officers have before the advent of this training?

Dane Sorensen: So, we have, I want to say it’s 25% of our officers are CIT trained. And there that’s throughout the agency. Other than that, the de-escalation training, we did not have de-escalation training. That’s why we sought out the grant in partnership with Arizona State University, Dr. White, and Dr.Orosco to come up with something that was specific to de-escalation.

Michael White: Correct me if I’m wrong, but a number of the nominated top de-escalators had gone through the hostage negotiation training of the FBI. is that correct?

Dane Sorensen: Okay, so some of them had, and those people are assigned to our negotiating team, which is attached to our tactical team. That is a very small portion of our agents.


Audience Question: Can you give some examples of what the ASU experts added or changed to help make the training content more effective? 

Dane Sorensen: Yeah, I can tell you this is what it felt like. They watched us give our presentation, they let us fumble through everything then when they brought us back, they set specific issues points where we were condescending and boring. How could we clean up our speech? How what we were doing was affecting adult learning, so they cleaned up our slides, they cleaned up our curriculum, and they gave us a pace, which was really nice. So, you knew that, as you’re working through slide one you had three minutes, on slide two you have two minutes. They gave us some exercises to kind of break the ice, come up with some team building and also give a different framework around what we’re trying to accomplish with the operational piece, the problem-solving piece. They gave us a couple of games that we played with officers to break the ice, and we break officers out into different work groups. So, if you could put a bunch of salty senior people together, they would have a different perspective than all the rookies. If you had a command person in a group that had a different perspective than just the officers and sergeants. So, they opened our eyes to all those things that we just… you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s what retook specifically from their teaching.


Audience Question: Did you utilize any behavioral health professionals to provide input for the de-escalation training in working with specialized populations?

Michael White: Yeah, I was just trying to think about the other folks that were involved in that 18-month process, and I don’t remember specifically anyone with a kind of behavioral health background, other than some of the officers that were on the committee, as well as some of the instructors were CIT trained. So, they had that experience, but I don’t think we had anyone specifically just with that background involved.


Audience Question: As situations become more complex and the future, do you believe officers and other law enforcement agencies will lead to strategize with more complex de-escalation and mitigation tactics? And if so, what tactics do you believe will evolve in that way? 

Dane Sorensen: Good question. Yes, I think, especially as you look at the different tactics, new technologies are coming out all the time, which can assist officers in evaluating the scene. Specifically, for us, when I think about technologies that weren’t there when I started 20 years ago, being able to fly a drone over can give you a bird’s eye view of what’s happening. The wrap, being able to basically shoot a rope around somebody, and tie them up, to give you an opportunity to kind of freeze them and us in a spot and then take them into custody with a plan. I do think that, yes, the future is going to be more complex. My belief and then I’ll turn it over to Dr. White and Dr. Orosco, police work is still very much across the country that one-on-one interaction, the officer, being able to understand what they’re seeing, and being able to interact. The human component with the public, communicate and be adaptive in a situation that, quite frankly, you can’t train for all of it.

Michael White: Yeah, I would add to that, I think the beauty of the PATROL model, it applies really to any interaction between two people. And the principles of that model, regardless of how technology is changing, and other things change in the future, I think the principles will still apply. And as Dane said, policing boils down to an interaction between most cases to people. And when you look at some of the findings that we had from the body cam footage and you’re seeing officers that are who received the training, doing a, you know, putting in more effort to listen, to communicate, to show empathy, to build rapport. I mean, those are those go to the very core of policing, I think, in terms of managing an encounter and dealing with somebody who’s upset and who may need to be de-escalated and those kinds of things. Going back to that patrol model, those principles, in my view always help achieve the goal of resolving an encounter peacefully.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of De-Escalation: Strategies, Impacts, and Implications for Criminal Justice



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