N.Y. Times Focuses on Seattle De-Escalation Training

A June 27 article in the New York Times focuses on Seattle's focus on de-escalation in its officer training.  That training has been development under the Department of Justice consent decree for which PARC Executive Director Merrick Bobb serves as court-appointed monitor and PARC and its consultants have served as staff:

In Seattle, the new training was developed as part of the consent decree, which came after the Justice Department found in 2012 that the police here had engaged in a pattern of excessive force. The finding was underscored by the 2010 fatal shooting of a woodcarver who had been carrying a carving knife while walking down the street.

In the training, required for the department’s 1,300 officers, the officers are taught to ask open-ended questions, paraphrase what a person has just said so that he or she knows the officer is listening, and make statements that connote empathy with the person’s situation. If properly executed, these techniques will significantly decrease the need for officers to use force, police officials say . . . .

[T]here have been notable successes.

One night late last month, a police officer confronted a man who was clutching a knife while walking down the middle of a residential street in North Seattle. When the officer ordered him to stop, the man responded with a vulgar gesture and kept going.

Over the next 30 minutes, the officer learned the man’s name from his wife and used it, beginning an unconventional peripatetic monologue to try to persuade him to surrender. “Hey, Gregory,” the officer said, “let me help you, brother!”

The man, disconsolate after an argument with his spouse, eventually dropped the knife. Instead of being arrested, he was taken to a hospital for a mental health checkup.

Read the article, and watch the Times' accompanying video features, here.