APD officers take de-escalation class

The Austin Police Department recently adopted a new de-escalation policy encouraging officers to slow down and find alternative ways to using force to reduce a threat.

Thursday, they let us in on their training.

Austin police are learning the newest in techniques to bring a heightened situation down before something takes a violent turn. "I want to make sure I communicate concern not only with the words coming out of my mouth, tone of voice, facial expressions, but body language sells the words that are coming out of my mouth,” said instructor Dave Young.

That includes such maneuvers as reverse yelling.

When being yelled at an officer remains at a soft tone to bring down the level of the other person.

"25-30 years ago you had five years to get it right. Now with all the cameras here and YouTube channels, you have five seconds to get it right,” said Young.

Dave Young, co-founder of Vistelar, teaches a class called verbal defense and influence. This is the second year Austin police have worked with the company. All cadets must attend the class.

Officers department-wide receive the training through appointed leaders within their ranks.

"It's being able to relate to the individual and empathize with them and understand their point of view. Put ourselves in their shoes and try and figure out what it is that they're going through at the time. so that we can come to a quick resolution,” said APD Senior Police Officer Michael Barker.

In January, Interim Chief Brian Manley announced a new de-escalation policy. Now, one criteria considered in the review process of use of force incidents is whether there were opportunities to reduce escalation and did the officer do so

"We do not expect them to place themselves at harm's way unnecessarily, if they don't have that opportunity to de-escalate, but if it is reasonable, and it is possible and it is safe, then that is what we would expect them to do,” said Manley.

His announcement came on the same day as two officers were indefinitely suspended for being dishonest about pushing and kicking a suspect during a takedown arrest.

One of those officers is currently being sued by a school teacher who claims he used excessive force on her during a traffic stop in 2015.

"Can you avoid conflict? Absolutely not. But we can able taught to manage it,” said Young.

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