Incorporating de-escalation tactics in police training is one of the most recommended police reform measures but until now, no research has shown that such training actually reduces use of force. In a study released by the journal Criminology & Public Policy, University of Cincinnati researchers collaborated with the Louisville Metro Police Department to evaluate the impact of the Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) de-escalation training developed by the Police Executive Research Forum.
The study found a 28.1 percent reduction in use of force incidents, a 26.3 drop in citizen injuries and a 36 percent reduction in officer injuries after the training. The reductions exceeded changes in police arrest patterns during the same period.
"Our findings suggest that agencies should continue to implement and evaluate de-escalation trainings and adopt other resiliency-based approaches to police training," said a team led by criminologist Robin Engel.
The researchers suggested combining de-escalation training with "supervisory oversight, managerial support, and community involvement in reform efforts." They said, "We cannot train our way out of this problem."
The authors said more police executives should be "willing to open their agencies for evaluation and oversight. Due to [Louisville's] partnership with researchers, evidence now exists that de-escalation training can make police encounters with the public safer for all. Continuing to implement and evaluate innovative police trainings is our best opportunity for meaningful changes in policing."