Spotlight on Safety

“Spotlight on Safety” is a themed, multidimensional outreach plan designed to promote officer safety awareness and wellness as directly related to officer safety. Spotlight on Safety provides safety-related topics and offers resources associated with an identified theme. Each theme includes digital aids, potentially including downloadable and printable posters and links to related articles, publications, Webinars, podcasts, and online trainings. To subscribe to receive notifications on recently published digital aids, follow VALOR on Facebook and Twitter, and look for the hashtag #SpotlightOnSafety.

This Spotlight on Safety theme is Defusing Difficult Encounters.

Defusing Difficult Encounters

Law enforcement officers, by nature of their duty to protect and serve, come into contact with tens of thousands of citizens each day.  The majority of these contacts are routine and uneventful, with most members of the public recognizing and complying with lawful instructions. Sometimes, officers become involved in interactions in which achieving compliance is more difficult, as a result of either willful resistance or a person’s inability to comply.  In either scenario, the first priority of involved officers is their own safety and the safety of those around them.

By learning and employing some basic defusing tactics, officers can enhance the safety of everyone involved and help bring such an encounter to a successful conclusion.  These tactics include slowing the situation down and using time as an advantage; constantly assessing the environment to maximize safety while maintaining control and tactical advantage; and last, taking action with the ultimate goal of resolving the encounter with minimum force or no force at all....

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Defusing Diffucult Encounters


Printable Posters

Defusing Difficult Situations

De-Escalation techniques for a peaceful resolution!

Keep Calm and De-Escalate

De-Escalation techniques should be used unless it is unsafe or not feasible.

De-Escalation Techniques

What you may see, may not be the whole picture.

Resources Available

Polis Solutions Logo

Polis Solutions
Polis Solutions and CNA will serve as the VALOR Initiative’s De-Escalation Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Provider to deliver evidence-based de-escalation TTA on a national scale that will help to educate and protect state, local, and tribal police officers and improve outcomes and relationships between police officers and the diverse communities they serve. Working with BJA, Polis and CNA will provide a full suite of TTA based on multidisciplinary social science research into the dynamics of face-to-face interactions in low-trust, high-risk situations of the kind exemplified by police encounters with people in historically marginalized communities, people with mental illnesses, and people in various states of crisis and trauma.

Improving Police Response to Persons Affected by Mental Illness  
On March 22, 2016, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convened an advisory group of leading experts on police response to persons affected by mental illness. The advisors’ principal task was to discuss the problem in-depth and create a set of recommendations to help law enforcement agencies effectively manage their officers’ response to persons affected by mental illness. The recommendations are included in this report, Improving Police Response to Persons Affected by Mental Illness.

Final Report of The President's Task Force On 21st Century Policing 
On December 18, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The President charged the task force with identifying best practices and offering recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. The task force recommendations, each with action items, are organized around six main topic areas or “pillars:” Building Trust and Legitimacy, Policy and Oversight, Technology and Social Media, Community Policing and Crime Reduction, Officer Training and Education, and Officer Safety and Wellness. 

Training For Police-Mental Health Collaboration Programs
An essential element of Police-Mental Health Collaboration programs (PMHC) is to provide specialized and comprehensive training to officers who respond to incidents involving a person with a mental illness. When law enforcement officers participate in standardized training with qualified and effective trainers, they are better able to understand mental illnesses and the impact on individuals, families, and communities. Through effective training, officers learn to identify signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and how to utilize a range of stabilization and de-escalation techniques, and they learn about disposition options, community resources, and legal issues. This section provides an overview of the necessary training for officers to safely and effectively manage encounters with people with mental illness. It focuses on types of training, time-frames for training officers, suggested curricula to use, and other resources for a comprehensive training program.

An Integrated Approach to De-Escalation and Minimizing Use of Force 
This report summarizes the findings of Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) research on this topic and presentations made at a PERF Summit in Washington, DC, in February 2012 on “An Integrated Approach to De-Escalation and Minimizing Use of Force.” 

ICAT:  Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics:  A Training Guide for Defusing Critical Incidents
ICAT takes the essential building blocks of critical thinking, crisis intervention, communications, and tactics, and puts them together in an integrated approach to training. ICAT is anchored by a Critical Decision-Making Model that helps officers assess situations, make safe and effective decisions, and document and learn from their actions.

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