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First Study of Police De-Escalation Training Shows Impressive Results

by Douglas Ankney

A first-of-its-kind study by the University of Cincinnati (“UC”) revealed that de-escalation training of police officers produces impressive results in making police encounters safer for the public. The study, appearing in Criminology & Public Policy (the flagship publication of the American Society of Criminology), was in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police Department of Louisville, Kentucky.

Researchers examined the post-training impact of the 2019 implementation of Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (“ICAT”) de-escalation training developed by the Police Executive Research Forum (“PERF”). Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of PERF, said the study showed that “training officers in ICAT was associated with 28% fewer use-of-force incidents, 26% fewer injuries to community members and 36% fewer injuries to police officers.” The analytical methods employed demonstrated these significant reductions were attributable to the ICAT training and not to any other factors, such as changes in arrest patterns.

The study’s lead author, Professor Robin Engel of UC’s School of Criminal Justice, said that in order to facilitate long-term changes in police behavior a “holistic approach is recommended that supports training tenets with complementary policies, supervisory oversight, managerial support and community involvement in reform efforts.”

UC recently announced it was partnering with Google’s Jigsaw Unit to test the company’s virtual reality police training platform that, according to Engel, is aimed at diffusing tense situations officers may encounter on patrol.

Writer’s note: While these results sound promising, considering past efforts of police unions to thwart any reforms one must wonder how long it will be before those unions sabotage these strides.  


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