Super good news about my local police (whom I’ve written about before in not-so-favorable terms due to a history of unnecessary and racialized violence):
It was a rather routine call to Eden Prairie police: a domestic dispute at a house with a mentally ill, intoxicated man. But the response by officers over the next half-hour was anything but routine.
Instead of confronting the man, an officer who had just completed training on defusing tense encounters calmly asked him questions and listened to his concerns.
It helped. The man cooperated, and no one was hurt.
“He was really amped up,” said Sgt. Dave Becker, who supervises the crisis intervention team. “You could see him start to calm down; they made a connection.”
As scrutiny of police intensifies in the aftermath of high-profile officer-involved shootings, there’s a renewed push for more officers to undergo de-escalation training — which emphasizes empathy over force.
Two bills have been introduced in the Legislature that would require such training. One, with bipartisan support, is moving through the committee process. Earlier this month, a presidential task force recommended that crisis intervention training be a part of both basic recruit and in-service officer training across the country.
Some police departments are already doing it. St. Paul, which has offered crisis intervention team (CIT) training for more than a decade, now requires it of recruits. Minneapolis is pushing to have every patrol officer get it; so far, 100 of its 820 officers have taken the classes. In nearby Golden Valley, two-thirds of about 30 patrol officers have taken them. And in Eden Prairie, all 35 patrol officers will complete them by the end of this year — an investment of more than $20,000.
“It’s very expensive,” Becker said. “But you look at one lawsuit and it could run in the millions. [The training is] well worth it.” […]
Results are difficult to track, he said, but the training also helps lower Internal Affairs complaints and officer injuries.