The Beauty of De-Escalation Training, as Told by Hopeful Cities


To acknowledge a problem is one thing, to adhere to a solution is quite another. America exemplified this when once again this nation was reminded of its ever-present systematic racism and rampant police brutality. With the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, as well as a history of unchecked and unpunished racism that continues to thrive in this country, Americans once again urged lawmakers and leaders that age-old calls for essential reform not fall on deaf ears- and in the case for some cities, it did not. 


When San Francisco began to implement a training program, they observed a 24% decrease in the use of force in 2019 compared to the rates of that 2018. This trend could only increase in California, as Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has since passed a law that makes de-escalation training mandatory for police departments in his state. “When we first began this whole journey,” PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) Executive Director Chuck Wexler began, “the conventional wisdom was: ‘Cops need to make split-second decisions- you’re going to get officers hurt.’ Now here we are in 2020 and you have a study that says that only was there a decline in use of force and citizen injury, but the biggest decline is in officer injuries.” (Washington Post). 


In Montgomery County, a city in Alabama, real police body-cam footage is shown to officers and discussed to help outline the most productive and harmless way to deal with any variety of cases. PERF instructor Tom Wilson offers commentary on the videos on what he wants to instill in cops who might come across a hazardous situation-  saying things such as “It’s a good thing for your cops to see right upfront: We don’t have to rush,” and “The tone-good.” The mission of these lessons? To prevent the senseless murders of those who deserved to live another day, and would’ve had it not been for an impulsive, and so often in the vein of racism, trigger-happy cop


Obviously, de-escalation programs and police reform is not a magical solution for the centuries-old racism plaguing America. Instead, it will take the unified effort of willing and socially-aware government and citizens alike to unite as combatants of racial injustice. However it is a start in enforcing legitimate efforts to tackle police brutality, and not just let the souls lost due to another’s intolerance be yet another Twitter trend.