De-escalation Training Overview

The environment of policing has become increasingly dangerous and complex due a variety of factors, including untreated mental illness, addiction disease, and the breakdown of community institutions. Additional training in de-escalation and less lethal tools are necessary to reduce deadly police encounters, save lives, and improve public trust and confidence in the police.

De-Escalation training incorporates three critical principles of police tactics to give officers the best options to resolve dangerous situations – time, distance, and shielding.  When officers are far enough away from a person armed with a deadly object to avoid injury, can take cover from potential gunfire, and have time to verbally engage, they have the opportunity to diffuse and change the trajectory of a volatile situation.  Effective de-escalation requires not only effective patrol tactics, but also knowledge about mental illness, communication techniques, and human psychology.

Since 1974 the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, comprised of 14 Governor appointed Commissioners, has had the authority to establish standards and provide training to peace officers and other criminal justice professionals.  The Commission provides 720 hours of mandated basic training to every police officer in the state, which includes de-escalation and crisis intervention training.  Now, the Commission is developing enhanced de-escalation and less lethal alternatives to train new officers and officers who have been in the field for any number of years.