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Navigating police use of force: The realities of de-escalation in law enforcement

Jamie Borden discusses how de-escalation is not just a tactic but a goal, achieved through a range of tactical endeavors based on the dynamic circumstances officers face

In the fourth of a seven-part Policing Matters Roll Call series on use of force, host Jim Dudley engages with Jamie Borden from Critical Incident Review.

Borden emphasizes the need for a balanced understanding of deescalation, highlighting that the outcome of an encounter is not solely in the hands of law enforcement officers. Suspects’ actions play a critical role in the escalation or deescalation of incidents. Through his analysis, Borden sheds light on the unrealistic expectations placed on officers and the need for a more comprehensive understanding of deescalation among both law enforcement professionals and the community.

Key learning points

Deescalation as a goal, not a tactic: Understanding deescalation as a goal allows for a more holistic approach to managing incidents, involving a series of tactical decisions rather than a single, prescriptive action.

The role of suspect behavior: The actions of individuals encountered by police significantly influence the potential for de-escalation, emphasizing that responsibility also lies with those being detained or apprehended.

Realistic expectations and training: There is a crucial need for realistic expectations regarding de-escalation from both the community and law enforcement, alongside targeted training that prepares officers for a variety of outcomes.

Questions for discussion

  1. How can law enforcement training better integrate the concept of deescalation as a goal within the context of varied and unpredictable encounters?
  2. What steps can be taken to adjust public expectations regarding the complexities and challenges of de-escalation in law enforcement?
  3. How can legislation and policy development support a more balanced approach to managing encounters between police officers and suspects, recognizing the shared responsibility for de-escalation?

The entire series is available for viewing below.

In this seven-part series, Policing Matters podcast host Jim Dudley speaks with Jamie Borden about the complexities and nuances of police use of force
Jamie Borden explores the limitations of academy training and advocates for self-investment to bridge the gap between knowledge and proficiency in policing
Jamie Borden delves into the adequacy of current fitness standards for law enforcement officers
Jamie Borden urges officers to seek continuous training in self-defense and defensive tactics to ensure their safety and effectiveness
Jamie Borden discusses how de-escalation is not just a tactic but a goal, achieved through a range of tactical endeavors based on the dynamic circumstances officers face
Jamie Borden on the importance of officers being alert, prepared and constantly running through “what if” scenarios
Jamie Borden discusses the nuances and complexities officers face when engaging with an unarmed but potentially assaultive individual
Jamie Borden shares critical insights on preparing for a post-incident interview, highlighting the nuances between an officer’s perceived truth and the established facts

Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing