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.
Community and stakeholder participation is critical to develop and deliver this important training. The Commission will host a series of public meetings which will be live-streamed and recordings will available on our website. Input will be solicited and accepted in person or electronically.
After Initiative 940 passed, the voters sent a clear message that they support training for law enforcement officers along with a deadly force standard based on good faith. WSCJTC is anticipating that the legislature will make some modifications to the language in I-940 in the upcoming session. We currently do not have any public meetings scheduled at this time, but plan to in the near future. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding this matter, please email