CHANDLER, Ariz. — April 29, 2024 — VirTra, Inc. (Nasdaq: VTSI) (“VirTra”), a global provider of judgmental use-of-force training simulators and firearms training simulators for the law enforcement and military markets, announced its participation at the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS) Conference and Exhibition in Orlando from April 29 to May 1, 2024. As a first-time vendor, VirTra will introduce its new V-XR headset training solution at the event, highlighting its advanced functionality and ability to meet diverse training demands, particularly in healthcare settings.

The IAHSS Annual Conference and Exhibition is a key event for healthcare’s top security, safety, and emergency management leaders to network, meet with vendors, and find solutions for their challenges. This year, VirTra joins the expo to demonstrate the effectiveness of its new V-XR training solution, a compact, lightweight headset training simulator with a focus on de-escalation scenarios. The headset features hyper-realistic characters created using volumetric video capture and pass-through to reduce motion sickness for the user.

VirTra’s recent entry into the healthcare market began last month when it partnered with Ascension St. John Hospital (“Ascension”) to equip its team with advanced training simulators. VirTra’s V-180 was a practical application of Ascension’s grant funds.

Darrel Long, Director of Security for Ascension Oklahoma, noted the impact, stating, “We can implement frequent training in scenarios representing our environment. The V-180 is a tremendous asset and allows all security officers within the Ascension St. John Health System to ensure patient and associate safety.”

Ascension also reported the system’s success in a recent case study, available to download on VirTra’s website. The study highlights the simulator’s wide range of training scenarios and how it allows the entire staff, not just the security team, to practice skills that keep them safe.

As VirTra’s role in healthcare security expands, multiple other healthcare organizations have already adopted its technologies. Ohio Healthcare PD, TriHealth Cincinnati, Marion Hospital in Indiana, Indiana University Hospital, Health First Security in Florida, and several VA locations have begun training their teams using VirTra simulators.

John Givens, CEO of VirTra, stated, “Every day, medical providers around the country go beyond the call of duty for their patients. VirTra supports every initiative within our capabilities to ensure the security of hospital staff while on the job. With our V-XR training solution, we are not only enhancing safety in healthcare environments but also demonstrating its cross-market functionality, allowing us to begin expansion beyond our core law enforcement and military markets. I’m confident that the training provided by our simulators will instill a renewed sense of safety among hospital staff, patients, and their visitors.”

VirTra’s entry into healthcare security coincides with an increase in unruly and sometimes violent behavior directed at healthcare providers. A 2022 report from the American College of Emergency Physicians revealed a significant increase in healthcare violence, with 55% of physicians surveyed saying they had been physically assaulted while at work. With the increased demand for hospital security, VirTra is stepping up to provide advanced use-of-force, de-escalation, and other forms of simulator-based training to its healthcare partners.

About VirTra, Inc.

VirTra (Nasdaq: VTSI) is a global provider of judgmental use of force training simulators and firearms training simulators for the law enforcement, military, educational and commercial markets. The company’s patented technologies, software, and scenarios provide intense training for de-escalation, judgmental use-of-force, marksmanship, and related training that mimics real-world situations. VirTra’s mission is to save and improve lives worldwide through practical and highly effective virtual reality and simulator technology. Learn more about the company at www.VirTra.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

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Investor Relations Contact:

Matt Glover and Alec Wilson

Gateway Group, Inc.

VTSI@gateway-grp.com

949-574-3860

 

According to a 2022 report for the American College of Emergency Physicians, 55% of
physicians taking the survey said they have been physically assaulted while at work, and 79%
have witnessed an assault. Unfortunately, violence and threats are common in medical facilities,
and security must be prepared to protect healthcare providers.

Most hospitals employ a security team, and like traditional law enforcement officers, hospital
security must undergo effective training to perform their duties proficiently.

VirTra is a company that provides advanced training simulators to law enforcement, military,
security, education, and medical industries. Hundreds of organizations across 40 countries use
VirTra simulators. Ascension St. John is the first private healthcare facility to obtain a VirTra
simulator.

The Ascension St. John Health System currently employs over 40 security officers trained in
security procedures, communication, de-escalation, and active shooter events. The safety of
their patients, guests, and associates is a top priority, so these officers must be prepared for
active threats, even if they occur infrequently.

In 2022, Ascension St. John Health System secured the VirTra simulator through the FEMA
Nonprofit Security Grant Program, a program designed to promote emergency preparedness
coordination and collaboration among public and private community representatives and state
and local government agencies. Healthcare industry facilities services provider, Medxcel,
facilitated the grant application, procurement, and installation processes.

“As part of our emergency management program, we help our healthcare locations apply for
federal grants that help pay for damages after a disaster, grants that help reduce risk, such as
hazard mitigation and security grants, and manage the required paperwork and reports.”
explained Scott Cormier, Vice President of Emergency Management, Environment of Care, and
Safety at Medxcel. “In the past six years, we’ve received approval for over $110M worth of
grants. These grants are even more important as healthcare systems continue to recover from
the worldwide impact of COVID-19 and find capital funds are limited.”

The three-screen VirTra V-180® decision-making simulator was installed in January 2024,
allowing users to practice for many interactive scenarios reflective of real-life situations. The
simulator features a large library of scenarios that offer various pathways to resolutions.
Scenarios pivot based on the officer’s responses, and actions and numerous training points can
be covered, including contact and cover, mental health/autism awareness, crisis de-escalation,
active threats, and many more.

Dynamic decision-making scenario-based training allows the security team to practice
numerous skills in a safe environment. Before receiving the simulator, Ascension St. John
Health System security officers would train in a classroom, practice handcuffing techniques or
spend time at a shooting range.

“We can implement frequent training in scenarios representing our environment. This is a
tremendous asset and allows all security officers within the Ascension St. John Health System
to ensure patient and associate safety.” Darrel Long, Director of Security for Ascension
Oklahoma stated.

Not only will the security team benefit from this system, but other staff members will be able to
experience situations, potential outcomes, and de-escalation techniques. By understanding the
possibilities of what could occur and how to respond, the rest of the hospital team can see how
the actions employed by the security team ensure a safe environment.

About VirTra, Inc.
VirTra (Nasdaq: VTSI) is a global provider of judgmental use of force training simulators and
firearms training simulators for the law enforcement, military, educational and commercial
markets. The company’s patented technologies, software, and scenarios provide intense
training for de-escalation, judgmental use-of-force, marksmanship, and related training that
mimics real-world situations. VirTra’s mission is to save and improve lives worldwide through
practical and highly effective virtual reality and simulator technology. Learn more about the
company at www.VirTra.com.

About Medxcel
As the largest sole provider of healthcare facilities services in the U.S., Medxcel delivers
operational savings, reduces supply chain costs, and increases compliance scores by
optimizing current resources and improving the overall healthcare environment.

About Ascension St. John
Ascension St. John operates six hospitals and more than 90 healthcare clinics and facilities in
eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. Ascension St. John employs approximately 4,500
associates. In fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023), Ascension St. John
provided more than $79 million in total community benefit and unpaid costs of Medicare
services, including care of individuals living in poverty. Serving Oklahoma for 98 years.
Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate,
personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most
vulnerable. Ascension is one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S.,
operating 2,600 sites of care – including 142 hospitals and more than 40 senior living facilities –
in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Download a pdf copy here:

Virtra_ASJ Case Study 2024

According to a 2022 report for American College of Emergency Physicians, 55% of physicians taking the survey said they have been physically assaulted while at work. 79% said they have witnessed an assault. Even a quick internet search will show many instances when healthcare workers are assaulted by patients or guests.

Hospitals often have security, whether it is their own officers, private security, or the town’s municipal police. One thing that all of them have in common is they must have effective training to be able to do their jobs well.

How One Private Hospital Began Advanced Training

Ascension St. John hospital in Oklahoma provides different styles of training for their security officers. Some of it includes range training, others include handcuff techniques. They felt there was a gap missing in their training, however.

Just last month, they obtained a V-180® simulator through grant funds, helping them fill what was missing. The simulator enables them to practice various scenarios such as active threats and de-escalation – two skills important for officers of all kinds, from security and SRO’s to state and municipal law enforcement. Check out their media coverage.

Multiple Training Styles for Hospital Security

Whether it is for an encounter requiring lethal force or just an irate subject who needs to be verbally de-escalated, there are scenarios available for hospital security and local officers tasked with protecting a medical facility. Each scenario has multiple branching options that change based on the user’s words and actions. The decision-making process is vital – whether you choose to use a firearm, less-lethal, or verbal communication must be determined in mere seconds.

While VirTra does provide training tools for law enforcement such as non-lethal devices and firearms, much of what officers and security personnel spend time doing is communication. Soft skills and de-escalation tactics can be practiced on VirTra’s screened solutions or the V-XR® extended reality system. VirTra’s screened simulators allow users to utilize the same tools they do on the field and contain hours upon hours of content. The V-XR utilizes volumetric video characters that display facial expressions and other subtle visual cues, plus is an ideal choice for those with a small training space.

Would you like to learn more about how VirTra’s various simulation training options can help hospital staff and security? Contact a specialist here.

 

References

  1. https://www.emergencyphysicians.org/siteassets/emphysicians/all-pdfs/acep-emergency-department-violence-report-2022-abridged.pdf
  2. https://www.newson6.com/story/65bad8ad5f7d255de6ca3d68/ascension-st-john-security-trains-on-de-escalating-situations-with-virtual-reality-simulator

Extended reality (XR) may be a familiar term, but do you know what differentiates it from other computer-altered reality?

As this article describes it, XR refers to “all real-and-virtual environments generated by computer graphics and wearables” (Irvine, 2017). Basically, it is a mix of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). But what do all those terms mean?

Virtual Reality (VR) is the most used term and refers to all virtually immersive experiences, including 360 video or CGI. The environment is artificial – whether CGI or video – because the user is not actually physically present in what is being displayed. VirTra’s screened simulators also fall under the VR category as well as headset-based solutions.

Augmented Reality (AR) overlaps computer-generated content onto the real world. If you remember the “Pokémon Go” game craze several years ago, that is an example of AR – CGI characters displayed as if they are actually in the real world. You can interact with the displayed objects or characters, but they do not connect with their surroundings.

Mixed Reality (MR) is an overlay of content that interacts with objects in the real world. Like AR, it combines objects from the virtual and physical world. That is the crucial aspect that separates it from AR, where the characters displayed in the environment do not actually interact with their real-world surroundings.

The main difference between Extended Reality and Mixed Reality is that while Extended Reality incorporates all immersive technologies, Mixed Reality is a specific subset of XR that combines digital and real-world objects. In mixed reality, virtual objects are used to enhance the physical world as the user interacts with digital content while still being aware of their physical environment (Khilar, 2022)

 

V-XR® Extended Reality System

When going back to XR, an umbrella term that refers to the fusion of the three interactions, there is a clear reason why this method would be beneficial from a training standpoint. 

In terms of VirTra’s training, XR made the most sense to delve into as it is all-encompassing. Not only does it provide a mix of VR, AR, and MR, but it allows for future expansion as technology becomes further refined. The goal is to provide first responders with realistic training that allows for seamless skill transfer.

VirTra’s V-XR® headset provides three modes of learning that incorporate all types of realities, including the mixing of synthetic and real settings.

The portable, lightweight characteristics make it ideal for smaller departments with limited space. It even accommodates agencies with a smaller number of staff, as there are segments that are self-driven. Most notably, the characters captured in the VirTra Volumetric Video (V3™) studio allow characters to be placed into any environment.

If you are interested in learning more about our newest training tool, contact a product specialist to get information.

 

References:

Irvine, K. (2020, September 14). XR: VR, AR, mr-what’s the difference? Viget https://www.viget.com/articles/xr-vr-ar-mr-whats-the-difference/

Khillar, S. (2022, May 10). Difference between extended reality and mixed reality. Difference Between. http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-extended-reality-and-mixed-reality/

When it comes to policing, communication should not be overlooked as one of the primary training points officers must receive. The flexibility of simulation training can easily provide first responders with options for soft skills training.

You may know of VirTra as the pioneer of the 5-screen simulator. The company is once again venturing into new simulation territory as it has developed the V-XR® extended reality system. This solution stands out among other law enforcement training headsets due to its use of 3D characters. Instead of CGI generated images and characters, those used in V-XR scenarios are created with volumetric capture. This allows users to distinguish facial expressions and other non-verbal cues, plus eliminates the uncanny valley that other CGI-based headset solutions give users.

The primary focus of this new training is on communication, de-escalation, mental illness, situational awareness, community engagement, and autism awareness. All these topics are of great interest to law enforcement agencies around the country and can help both save lives and establish greater trust within their communities.

 

Educate, Experience, Engage

The V-XR utilizes three concepts of learning: Educate, Engage, and Experience. Each concept provides information on a topic for well-rounded training. In the end, the headset-based V-XR places officers into a realistic scenario to practice the skills they have learned.

“Education” provides officers and trainees with an enhanced lesson plan with voice, images, and videos. This style of explicit learning is far more immersing than textbook and lecture learning provided in a traditional classroom setting.

The next concept of training in the V-XR headset is the “Experience.”  After learning from previous concepts, officers using the V-XR will participate in a scenario in a virtual V-300 with rounded screens. Crystal clear imagery and wraparound screens allow users to feel as if they are really part of the scenario being played before their eyes.

The final is “Engage,” where officers will interact with volumetric video characters right in front of them. Unlike CGI characters, you can see their facial expressions to determine if the subject may be prepared to attack or become aggressive. You can spot little details like whether someone has a gun hidden under their shirt. It is also possible to walk around them as if they are truly a person standing before you.

Learn More About Our Solutions

VirTra provides much more than just hardware. Our content is the heart of our training, which is why each scenario, volumetric character, and curriculum is extensively reviewed and tested by our subject matter experts.

The V-XR is available for pre-order and will be available March 2024. To learn more about our newest addition to the product line, contact a specialist. 

Delaying the use of force in favor of de-escalation requires good judgment, situational awareness, and frequently, an assumption of risk. In an article by Von Kliem of Force Science, the decision to de-escalate requires officers to balance immediate public safety against the desire to generate voluntary cooperation and avoid the use of force.

Of course, not all subjects are willing or able to be de-escalated. There are not magic words that guarantee an unruly subject will suddenly become compliant. If someone does not want to comply, they won’t. Officers must not only assess the subject’s willingness to de-escalate, they must consider when it has become too dangerous to keep trying. This is where the four C’s of de-escalation come into play: containment, control, contact, and communication.

Containment & Control

Containment refers to limiting the subject to a reasonable area of movement; often while keeping others out. Containment ideally reduces a subject’s chance to access weapons, evidence, or potential victims.  Containment also keeps the person close enough for communication, while reducing distractions that can make communication and persuasion difficult.

Even with containment, officers will consider how much “control” they have over the subject.  Control simply means the subject in not presenting an imminent threat.  The presence of weapons and potential victims can challenge an officer’s ability to use verbal de-escalation and avoid the use of force.

As Von Kliem mentions in the Force Science article referenced earlier, if the only person potentially in harm’s way is the subject themselves, slowing down to set conditions for de-escalation may be the most reasonable approach.

Communication

When most people think of de-escalation, they are imagining verbal communication and body language. The words you choose are important, but so is how you say them. A calm tone of voice may encourage a person to de-escalate, where screaming may have the opposite effect.

Sometimes talking isn’t required at all.  It may be that listening is more valuable and that a distressed subject needs to vent before calming down. It can help them feel as if their emotions matter and their opinions are heard.

Contact

Contact is more than just having the subject see and hear you.  Officers must consider whether the subject can even understand the messages they are sending.  Contact is necessary for the subject to read facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.  Physical distance and barriers can impede effective communication, and so can mental impairment that can result from alcohol, drugs, or certain mental health issues.

In police encounters, Kliem mentions that some training recommends that officers create space between themselves and a subject in crisis. When officers choose to create space, they should consider whether that distance might impede communication and de-escalation efforts.

 

As an officer, you know de-escalation has been a part of policing for decades and that not everyone wants to de-escalate. You know that officers don’t actually de-escalate other people.  Instead, they set the conditions that provide the best opportunity and motivation for people to de-escalate themselves.  In other words, de-escalation requires cooperation.

VirTra has 2 valuable de-escalation courses that are NCP-certified by IADLEST. They combine classroom learning with hands-on experience in the simulator. The best way to learn a skill is to use it in context – so VirTra allows you to research the topic, then put it into practice in a safe environment. To get started on non-verbal and verbal de-escalation training, contact a specialist.

 

References:

Kliem, V. (2019, July 25). Containment and de-escalation: The honest debate continues – force science. Force Science – Research | Training | Consulting. https://www.forcescience.com/2019/07/containment-and-de-escalation-the-honest-debate-continues/

Think of how many people a day officers interact with. Being able to effectively communicate, read body language, and calm a situation down are important skills for law enforcement. While not every person can be de-escalated, there are many instances where simple tactics such as using a calm voice and creating distance can make a difference.

Instead of relying on instructors to act as role-players or just learning through bookwork and presentations, simulation of de-escalation in virtual reality training has opened the door for realistic practice engaging with real people.

 

The Importance of Scenario Branching

If a simulated scenario only has a couple of options and pathways to resolution, it can only be done so many times. Users in the simulator would easily learn what they are “supposed” to do, and the element of predictability would be too strong.

Our multi-incident scenarios of de-escalation in virtual reality training have several branching options, allowing officers flexibility in how they respond and for instructors to change things up depending on the actions of the trainee. If the trainee’s de-escalation tactics are not working, the instructor could choose to make the on-screen character react with hostility. On the other hand, if the officer is effectively communicating, the instructor might allow the scenario to end peacefully.

 

Why De-Escalation?

As an officer, you’ve heard the word many times. It has become a buzzword, and not always in the right context. Properly de-escalating by using only verbal communication skills can reduce the chances of force being used if the person wants to be de-escalated. This includes using a calm voice, creating distance, avoiding inflammatory language and swearing, and letting the person safely vent.

It is important to note that not every subject can be de-escalated. Some people are too heavily under the influence of illicit substances, and others are simply not willing to cooperate no matter what. This is known by most officers, but the public tends to think you can wave a wand and calm everyone down. In these situations, the officer must do what is necessary to protect themselves, the public, and the subject as well.

 

De-Escalation in Virtual Reality Training Scenarios

While training for use-of-force incidents is important and should be done, officers rarely fire their weapons. In comparison, officers talk with members of the public many times per shift. In fact, the New York Times reported that 32-37 percent of officers’ shifts involve responding to non-criminal calls. Not only is keeping peace part of their jobs, but they often act as mediators, therapists, and a listening ear. This reality is reflected in the high number of scenarios that involve de-escalation in virtual reality training with VirTra’s simulators.

People can be irate and unruly in many situations, locations, and ways. Maybe it’s during a traffic stop, at a residence, or a public park. In each of these situations, instructors can choose what the subject will say, if they will calm down, or if they will become further enraged. Even in active threat training scenarios, a subject can raise their hands and surrender to officers – not every scenario has to end in lethal force.

 

VirTra gives instructors and officers alike a flexible way to train for de-escalation in virtual reality. They are able to hone communication skills. Would you like to schedule some time with a representative for more information? Contact a product specialist to learn more.

 

References

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/upshot/unrest-police-time-violent-crime.html

Effective, advanced training comes with a monetary cost. That cost is well worth the lives saved due to the knowledge officers gain from it. For smaller law enforcement agencies or ones that experienced budget cuts, there is a way to acquire training through grant programs.

 

It is Easy to Get Grant Funding with VirTra Solutions

With a strong need for law enforcement to be trained on specific topics, many grants have requirements to be met for a training solution to fall under its umbrella. De-escalation training and individuals with mental illnesses are topics covered under many training grants in recent years.

VirTra has a strong focus on scenarios that provide non-lethal pathways to resolution. Over 100 scenarios in our library do not require the user to use a firearm. Branching options provide multiple options for officers to take during training, allowing them to use verbal communication skills to de-escalate an irate subject. Additionally, we submit courses through IADLEST’s NCP program for certification accepted by POST in 36 states.

Hours of mental illness and autism awareness coursework is included in our clients’ systems. The scenarios and curriculum provide a strong foundation for officers to recognize the signs that a subject they are interacting with may have a mental illness or be on the autism spectrum. Not only is the recognition important, but knowing how to properly communicate is too. Scenarios allow officers to compassionately settle incidents – whether it is a public disturbance or a person having a mental health crisis.

Another focus is on community relations with a focus on showcasing how the agency trains. Relations can be strengthened through hosting media days, community events, and demonstrations. When community members and stakeholders experience the benefits of simulation training and how it can positively impact public safety, they will feel more secure in the agency that serves them.

 

The Latest Grants Available

As of now, there are some brand new grant programs that VirTra’s capabilities fit under.

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill

This brand new bill announced in July for FY 2024 sets aside $20M for de-escalation training and $10M for mental health and wellness. Click here to get more details about this funding opportunity.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program

This program for FY 2023 is specifically for city, county, tribal, and special district agencies. Virtual reality de-escalation training is supported as well. Click here to read more about this opportunity. Keep in mind that the deadline is next month – August 24!

 

Grant Guides

If your department needs extra help writing grants or researching, VirTra offers the Grant Assistance Program. This program provides instructors with free, one-on-one customized grant help dedicated solely to training simulations and firearm training projects. Instructors can receive help with the entire process—grant research, alert notices, application reviews, etc.—at no cost. Start receiving free grant assistance by clicking here!

When used properly, de-escalation can reduce police use of force. While not every situation permits de-escalation—as some subjects are noncompliant no matter what—there are times when the proper tone of voice or choice of words can calm the subject or reduce the chance of them becoming out of control.

Recently, many agencies have heavily focused on maximizing law enforcement de-escalation training to lower the frequency of force used by their officers. To help further this training, VirTra has produced two nationally-certified de-escalation courses that are free for all law enforcement clients.

This training—De-Escalation and Crisis De-Escalation—has a total of 6 training hours which encompasses coursework, presentations, and de-escalation training scenarios. As nationally-certified materials, they fall under the V-VICTA®—Virtual Interactive Coursework Academy—program, along with other skill-building curriculum.

De-Escalation Curriculum

Born from a partnership between VirTra and the conflict experts at VISTELAR, this 4-hour course allows officers to practice de-escalating situations before they become detrimental. In the course, this is referred to by VISTELAR as “non-escalation.” Paired with simulator scenarios that allow the officer to practice verbal de-escalation, this course is dedicated to improving communication.

Crisis De-Escalation Curriculum

This 2-hour course is designed to help officers better identify crisis behaviors and use their VirTra simulator’s real-world scenarios to practice their skills. Like “De-Escalation” and other V-VICTA courses, Crisis De-Escalation provides ample time for training in lifelike scenarios.

The video below shows two officers utilizing a popular scenario, “Bridge Baby.” In this scenario, officers confront a man holding an infant over a bridge. Officers in the simulator must use communication skills to calm the man and convince him to put down the baby and surrender.

Getting Started With Maximizing Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training

With a wide variety of environments, situations and subjects, instructors have an extensive choice of training options for their officers. Everything from unruly bystanders to emotionally disturbed persons – VirTra aims to cover as much territory as possible to prepare law enforcement for unpredictable situations.

The best part is that these two courses are already NCP-certified by IADLEST. This saves agencies a lot of time by not having to write and certify their own curriculum. Both courses – as well as other V-VICTA courses – have all the materials needed. From instructor manuals to testing materials, it is all included.

It is important to note that nearly every scenario in VirTra’s library has an option for de-escalation. VirTra goes beyond “shoot-don’t-shoot” by providing various branching options that depend on the training points.

For more information on our de-escalation courses, please contact a VirTra specialist.

De-escalation can be quite a divisive term in the law enforcement community. Not just in principle, but in practice. We cannot agree on a definition. De-escalation techniques in application differ greatly from mandate and policy. The application also differs greatly from expectation; the expectation that you can connect and influence another person no matter what. Expectation is the root of disappointment. Unfortunately, in the case of law enforcement officers, this expectation can potentially result in litigation, job loss, discipline, and in some cases, the loss of the officer’s life. There are times when no amount of talking will resolve a situation and a quick application of force to resolve the situation is what is safest for everyone. No one likes that conversation though, not the public nor weak leaders.

I am going to let you in on a couple of secrets regarding de-escalation that we tip-toe around and do not address:

  • You cannot de-escalate anyone.
  • You cannot policy or mandate human connection.

However de-escalation is defined or framed, at the foundation you provide one thing; time, time for something to change. There is a saying in therapy that no feeling is final. I would encourage you not to say this to anyone, but to think about the implications of that statement. What we provide to someone in crisis is the time for something to change that will ideally result in a reduction in volatility. But we are not the ones doing the hard work. We may be using the best communication style to impact that person and we provide the space and the time, but that individual does the work to de-escalate. What changes with time? Emotions, hormones, neurochemical response, blood flow, thought processes…we provide the framework with what is best to address the person’s needs, the rest is up to the person to work through.

One of the most important tools in law enforcement is checking  your own ego. If you think de-escalation is about you, think again. De-escalation is not about you; it is about the possibility of human connection and influence. If you cannot connect with someone, you cannot influence them. De-escalation is a participatory process and the other person must engage in the process. What about the population that cannot engage? Maybe the individual is so contaminated by the overwhelming emotions and crisis that participation is not possible. What if it is a medical emergency? And equally important, what if they choose not to? That is a population we do not talk enough about. The person who willingly chooses not to be part of the process. Individuals who are criminal minded and anti-law enforcement. What policy addresses that?

If we cannot look at human behavior in the realm of both possibilities and limitations, we have set officers up for failure. These are the conversations that need to happen far above my head. The conversations that address what is actually possible and not what looks good through a social justice lens that pits officers against the public based on an unachievable objective.

The change at the top may be infinitesimally slow, but there is an area that significantly impacts outcomes; training. Good training allows for the consideration of these factors. Research-based training methods can help officers choose the best type of communication strategies to allow for de-escalation to occur or recognize if verbal connection with the individual is possible. The ability for officers to recognize human behavior quickly and accurately to employ the most effective strategies leads to positive outcomes.