What Scottish police can teach U.S. cops about de-escalation

After implementing new de-escalation strategies, use of force incidents fell by nearly half in Volusia County


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In Volusia County, Florida, annual arrests dropped by almost 30% from 2017 to 2019 even though call volume remained steady, and the recorded frequency of Volusia deputies using force fell by nearly half, from 122 annual incidents to 65.

Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood credits a visit to Scotland as part of a Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) initiative in 2015 for helping implement new de-escalation strategies that have assisted not only in reducing the use of force, but also officer injuries. The visit led to the development of PERF's Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics training.

In this episode, host Jim Dudley discusses the strategies and training in place at Volusia County with Sheriff Chitwood and how other agencies can implement similar programs.  

Police1 readers respond

I tuned into the podcast with Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood regarding de-escalation techniques learned from the Scottish police and was a bit surprised to hear that this technique wasn’t being taught far and wide at American law enforcement agencies – it’s basic!

I started my career in 1983 at the Lakewood Colorado Department of Public Safety – soon to be called the Lakewood Police Department. Time, Talk & Tactics were constantly preached to patrol, investigations and tactical team members alike. Tactics obviously included distance, cover, concealment, lighting, less-lethal options, etc.  

My partner and I disarmed a suicidal subject armed with a large kitchen knife using Time, Talk & Tactics, backing up to create distance and using a kitchen counter to create barrier separation until I was able to deploy OC and disarm this individual. From my perspective, our actions were not heroic, but rather fundamental to what should be occurring in law enforcement everywhere.  

I retired in 2011 and it’s apparent to me that law enforcement has changed dramatically in the ten years since I retired. Our instant gratification and rush to get it done culture have permeated law enforcement and our tactics. Police executives and leaders across the country really need to re-examine how they’re training their personnel. It’s time to slow it down and make good tactical decisions – Time, Talk & Tactics is a win, win formula!

Respectfully,

Hal Shucard, HDS & Associates LLC

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