Law Enforcement Instructors Trained on De-Escalation Tactics

de-escalation imageOn June 10–11, 2014, the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute (UMCPI) conducted a free COPS Office-funded two-day pilot “Public Safety De-escalation Tactics for Military Veterans in Crisis, Train-the-Trainer” course in Arden Hills, Minnesota.1 Hosted by the Ramsey County (Minnesota) Sheriff's Office, the training highlighted the importance of careful assessment and situational awareness when engaging with a person who may be a military veteran suffering from wartime stressors that are impeding a smooth integration into civilian life. Converging conditions that may affect military veterans—such as familial and financial distress, isolation, and physical and psychological injuries sustained during wartime—were discussed, along with recommendations on how to safely address veterans who may be experiencing these conditions.

The training was made available regionally, and several public safety agencies sent representatives.2 While the first day of the training was geared toward public safety personnel from multiple disciplines, such as police officers, firefighters, EMS providers, and 911 call center operators, the second day of the course was geared specifically toward law enforcement instructors.

The training was delivered by a two-person team consisting of a law enforcement trainer and military veteran trainer. Using a combination of small group discussions, instructor-facilitated videos, and real-life case studies, students learned about the signs to look for and questions to ask in order to learn whether a person involved in an incident is a military veteran. They learned about the impact of multiple deployments and other wartime stressors. They also learned how to identify when a person might be suffering from PTSD or other mental health disorders that may place him or her, and responding public safety personnel, at risk for injury. The students learned specific verbal techniques to de-escalate and defuse tense situations and preserve the safety of all persons involved.

The training featured a train-the-trainer component, which offered law enforcement instructors the opportunity to attend the PSDTVC training on the first day and participate in a second day of training to practice teaching the course to others.3 Instructors taught students adult learning techniques, helped them refine their facilitation skills, and provided each student with a chance to conduct an instructional “teach back session,” which permitted each student to teach entire segments of the course to the other student instructors and to receive immediate feedback on his or her teaching techniques. Positive feedback from the students praised the UMCPI instructors' knowledge and professionalism, as well as the value of the small group breakouts and instructor-facilitated video viewing and discussion sessions.

“The willingness of the students to take command of the learning experience through the class teach-back session was a demonstration of today's law enforcement commitment and professionalism.” – Dennis Cusick, UMCPI Executive Director

technical instructorAll of the law enforcement instructors completed the class and received an instructional package that included the course curricula and resources needed to conduct the training in their own agencies (i.e., lesson plans, instructor and participant guides, videos, and PowerPoint slides). The instructors are free to reproduce the instructional materials so they can deliver multiple trainings in their agencies. Under the COPS Office award, the law enforcement instructors also have the option to receive additional technical assistance from UMCPI, provided free of charge,4 to help them continue to provide effective de-escalation training. The technical assistance includes distance learning skill development and coaching as requested.

UMCPI is planning to deliver more training sessions in regions throughout the United States over the coming months. Under a previous COPS Office FY 2011 award, UMCPI was able to deliver 15 “Public Safety De-escalation Tactics for Military Veterans in Crisis” trainings to 550 students in less than a year. As a result of the train-the-trainer component under its new COPS Office FY 2013 award, an average of 144 law enforcement instructors will be trained, and in turn they will go on to train hundreds, if not thousands, of more students5 on public safety de-escalation tactics to reduce the use of force when encountering military veterans in crisis.

For more information on the “Public Safety De-escalation Tactics for Military Veterans in Crisis, Train-the-Trainer” training or to sign up for the training, contact Cindy Zoul at 877-917-2255 or Learn more about the UMCPI by visiting its website at

Debra R. Cohen McCullough, PhD
Senior Analyst, COPS Office


1 Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, “U.S. Department of Justice Sponsors De-Escalation Training For Law Enforcement Personnel,” press release, June 10, 2014,
2 Students attended from Washington County Sheriff's Office, Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, Anoka County Sheriff's Office, Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, St. Paul Police Department, and the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, Veterans' Court.
3 McCullough, Debra R. Cohen, “2012 COPS Conference Recap: Training to Address Veterans in Crisis Highlighted,” Community Policing Dispatch 5, no. 9 (September 2012),
4 Technical assistance is provided to students who complete the “Public Safety De-escalation Tactics for Military Veterans Train-the-Trainer” course at no charge during the performance period of the COPS Office award funding the training program.
5 McCullough, Debra R. Cohen, “More De-Escalation Tactics Training on the Way,” Community Policing Dispatch 6, no. 10 (October 2013),

Back to top

UAS Guidebook in Development | Reflections on the NIOT Gathering | Nez Perce Tribal Police Conference | LE Instructors and De-Escalation | Military and Law Enforcement | Hitting the Road with COPS