Wednesday, February 17, 2016

De-escalation for Law Enforcement in Park Ridge

Nice article in the local paper on de-escalation training for Park Ridge law enforcement.
Last year, a U.S. Justice Department grant secured by the Park Ridge Police Department allowed for officers to take crisis intervention training, a program that aims to prepare officers to deal with citizens struggling with a broad spectrum of mental health disorders, said Deputy Police Chief Duane Mellema.
The training, Mellema said, is largely aimed at de-escalating tense or potentially dangerous situations through communication techniques. Some of the things officers are taught include showing empathy, speaking slowly and calmly, and taking time with the individual.
"If a person thinks you are bothered or in a hurry, you'll have a hard time communicating with them," Mellema said.
Out of 39 incidents last year that involved police response to a situation involving mental illness, all but one was handled without the use of force, Mellema said. The single incident in which force was used involved an intoxicated man who was subdued with a taser because he was walking in traffic on Dempster Street and attempting to get into cars that were stopped in traffic, Mellema said.
Two caveats:

1. Median home value in Park Ridge is $378,000. It's a gorgeous, wealthy, place. Great schools. If we ever decided to move to the north suburbs (which we might, for commute reasons) and our income increases significantly, we'd try to move there.

That means this is NOT a place where race, poverty, and disability intersect in policing. It's easier to work on single-factor places. It still matters as one of my arguments is that the intersection of disability and policing can lead to terrible outcomes anywhere. It's also important to call this out as atypical.

2. "If a person thinks you are bothered or in a hurry, you'll have a hard time communicating with them," - That's true in every encounter. These findings need to be universalized, not compartmentalized to just mental-health cases.

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