HAYS – Fort Hays State University administration recently signed a preliminary agreement for its Department of Criminal Justice and University Police Department to explore the opportunity to establish a regional training center for the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) on the FHSU campus. The NDTC is located at Wayne State University in Detroit and facilitates innovation, research, and development of best practices in law enforcement de-escalation training.
Dr. Tamara Lynn, chair and associate professor of Criminal Justice, learned of the NDTC days following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.
Lynn knew the decisions made by Police Officer Derek Chauvin were wrong and that criminal charges were a realistic response to his choices. She also knew his actions were not indicative of all law enforcement officers.
A 2016 report by the Dolan Consulting Group captures the prevalence of use-of-force utilizing FBI data. During 2014, there were approximately 385 million police-citizen contacts, leading to about 11.2 million criminal arrests. During those arrests, officers were assaulted almost 50,000 times while 990 deaths of citizens occurred. This means that deaths occurred in only 0.0003 percent of all police-citizen contacts, in only 0.009 percent of all arrest situations, and in response to just over 2 percent that involved an assault on an officer.
The establishment of a regional training center will allow the Department of Criminal Justice to provide de-escalation training to officers from a multi-state region, including Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. In addition to training de-escalation techniques to current law enforcement, Lynn hopes to make a statement and impression on criminal justice majors attending FHSU.
“Following Mr. Floyd’s death, I thought about all the young men and women who graduated from our department and specifically those now working in law enforcement careers,” Lynn said. “In my 12 years at FHSU, hundreds of these former students have entered the profession to serve their respective communities.”
Lynn believes creating a culture that emphasizes de-escalation will benefit not only those going into law enforcement but also students pursuing careers in corrections, probation and parole, juvenile services, and other positions where situations may escalate quickly. Lynn’s objective is to ensure that current and future students are trained in de-escalation techniques to reduce use-of-force incidents and loss of life.
A new approach
The NDTC uses the most popular and broadly accepted personality model in the world, DISC, to de-escalate situations. Traditional de-escalation training models use accepted practices such as allowing venting and active listening, as taught in verbal judo training. However, these approaches treat everyone as if they are the same using “a one-size-fits-all” model. The NDTC model harnesses these traditional approaches yet augments them by identifying the subject’s personality and communicating with them based upon their individual personality traits. This training teaches officers to identify personality quickly (sometimes in just seconds) so they can adjust their approach to maximize effective communication and interaction with a subject.
According to FHSU Police Chief Ed Howell, “This de-escalation model expands the police officers’ tool kit to interact with the people they serve and defuse potential situations that otherwise may escalate in the use of force. This model does not take the place of other proven crisis intervention models. It seamlessly supplements other proven models of intervention and de-escalation.”
Lynn and Howell will spend the next several weeks in discussion and planning with officials from NDTC and university administration.
Howell stated: “With Fort Hays State University’s expert faculty, challenging academic programs, unmatched online learning capabilities, and mission to serve the people of Western Kansas, I think we are a great fit for an NDTC regional training center.”
For more information about FHSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and the University Police Department, visit www.fhsu.edu/criminaljustice and www.fhsu.edu/university-police.