Verbal De-Escalation Training for Police Officers

Verbal de-escalation training is an essential training topic for police and law enforcement.

You’re probably asking yourself, “what is verbal de-escalation training?” Verbal de-escalation training teaches officers to slow down, create space, and use communication techniques to defuse a potentially dangerous situation. Verbal de-escalation training provides officers with strategies to calmly deal with people who are experiencing mental and emotional crises.

Verbal De-escalation Training Summary

Today’s increased service demands and the scrutiny placed upon public safety professionals have resulted in a growing need to master verbal conflict management skills. When negative verbal encounters escalate to the point where physical intervention is used, criticism often results when it is later discovered that there is little evidence of verbal de-escalation techniques employed by officers. This is particularly true when incident video and audio reviews are utilized. In some cases, it has become clear that the verbal actions of the public safety responders served to escalate the situation. Administrators are now asking, “Is this an area in which the training tape has run out? Have we adequately trained our personnel to successfully manage and respond to verbal confrontations in a professional manner?".

Verbal De-escalation training provides public safety professionals with time-tested communication skills proven to help de-escalate volatile situations, safeguard fellow officers’ emotional and professional well-being, and significantly enhance the agency’s professional image. The course also provides opportunities for the participants to participate in practical skill building so that when they complete the two-day training they are well on their way to becoming more effective professionals in communication.

Verbal Deescalation Training Objectives

  • Improve police officer' verbal communication skills
  • Diffuse potentially volatile verbal encounters
  • Raise organizational morale and grasp the concept of “Police Legitimacy”
  • Significantly enhance the agency’s image throughout the community
  • Understand the importance of managing “Hyper vigilance”

Why is verbal de-escalation training important for police officers?

Many larger departments have implemented the training, such as those in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis. So far, some of the departments have reported reductions in use-of-force incidents.

For example, the Dallas Police Department, saw an 18 percent drop in use of force the year after it instituted de-escalation training. Since 2010, excessive force complaints there have dropped by 83 percent.

Apex Officer’s training programs focus on de-escalation techniques as a method of prevention. Communication is a key factor in the ability to de-escalate any situation.

Successfully de-escalating a situation is the result of a combination of communication, empathy, instinct, and sound officer safety tactics. The philosophy behind the training is that officers need to take every opportunity to slow down a situation when possible. APEX Officer’s de-escalation training program includes ways to improve communication skills, discussion of how to assess a subject's situation, how to know when you need backup, and proven officer safety tactics.

Why should you care about verbal de-escalation training?

There are 34 states that do not require de-escalation training for all officers, according to an analysis by APM Reports, and only eight have done so since Brown was killed three years ago. Although most states have boards that license peace officers and oversee state training requirements, the vast majority have failed to mandate it.

The failure to mandate de-escalation training has left the decision of whether to train up to local chiefs and sheriffs. And many haven’t done it, citing, among other reasons, cost, lack of staff, and a belief that the training is unnecessary or constitutes a rebuke of traditional policing.

A full list of police training requirements in each state and law enforcement de-escalation training requirements can be found here.

About the Author

Alex Oliver
Customer Success

Alex Oliver is the Customer Success Manager at Apex Officer