RCPD officers are first introduced to de-escalation training after the police academy at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. When they return they attend a basic use of force class where the elements of de-escalation as they pertain to the use of force are discussed. The new officer then practices scenarios where they have to successfully de-escalate a violent subject. Then, annually this type of training is repeated in a number of formats. Currently, RCPD has three (3) verbal de-escalation instructors who train officers on de-escalation during our annual Taser re-certification, annually during defensive tactics, and annually during our reality based-training. Officers will receive de-escalation training in various forms multiple times a year.
All employees, not just the police officers at RCPD, receive annual training in avoiding racial or any other biases regarding protected classes. Interestingly, the State of Kansas lists the following as protected classes from police bias: race, ethnicity, national origin, gender and religion; however, the RCPD has added the following classes as also protected: sexual orientation/identity, socio-economic status, and perceived disability and/or age. When training about racial biases, we train about not being biased toward all of these protected classes. Annually we hold a 2-4-hour training in some format pertaining to both implicit and explicit biases, and how our actions as a policing agency can negatively and positively affect others. Currently, we have three (3) instructors who are certified to teach the Fair and Impartial Policing curriculum which was taught for the training year 2018. Last year we discussed cultural awareness, and how culture leads us to view others differently. In the 2020 training year, we are training Fair and Impartial Policing again, keeping these ideas and philosophies ever-present in our employees' minds.
Police interaction with people within our community suffering a mental health crisis is a daily occurrence. To better serve those people the RCPD has taken the “One Mind Pledge” and has met and exceeded the pledge standards. The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness. The initiative focuses on uniting local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations so that the three become "of one mind." To join the campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices over a 12-36-month time frame. These practices include: establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with a community mental health organization, developing a model policy to implement police response to persons affected by mental illness, training and certifying sworn officers and selected non-sworn staff in mental health first aid training or other equivalent mental health awareness course, and providing crisis intervention team training.
To date the Riley County Police Department has:
- Maintained at least one active member on the Riley County Mental Health Task Force
- Maintains Policy 41.2.7 – Response to Mental Health Situations
- Department members trained to teach Mental Health First Aid
- Inserted Mental Health First Aid into the Department's annual training program for police officers, correction officers, and dispatchers.
- Sent nearly 30% of our patrol officers to Crisis Intervention Team training
- Established a Crisis Intervention Team Council that has partnered with the Mental Health Task Force
- Established a Patrol Division Goal to decrease the incarceration of those on mental health crisis by developing alternatives to arrest.
- A strong partnership with Pawnee Mental Health
- Employs two full-time mental health professionals as police co-responders
- Established a 13-member Peer Support Team represented by all the divisions within the Department to help ensure we are meeting our own mental health needs
- A robust Employee Assistance Program
As mentioned above the RCPD has established a Crises Interventions Team Council, the regional council includes several mental health providers and professionals as well as representatives from numerous first responder agencies from Manhattan, Riley County, Kansas State University, and Pottawatomie County. The RCPD is working toward training as many of our officers as possible in crisis intervention through the nationally recognized 40-hour CIT training program. Currently, the Department has about 30% of this goal with our police and corrections officers. We did have a 40-hour CIT training class scheduled earlier this year but it had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We do plan to reschedule this training as soon as the pandemic threat passes.
We mention the One Mind Pledge and CIT in response to your question about de-escalation because the skills learned and the policies and procedures followed focus almost entirely upon de-escalation of any situation. De-escalation techniques are used by our officers prior to, during, and after force of any kind is applied and, in many situations, prevents the need for any physical force. All of our officers are required to complete Mental Health First aid and they work daily with our Mental Health Co-responders. Again, through these resources officers are practice and experience the power of communication to mitigate physical, bizarre, and often violent behavior with little or no force necessary.