De-escalation should be part of police routine

One of the statements that I continue to hear when someone is hurt or killed by a police officer is “They followed procedure.” It seems to me that the procedures need to be looked at to determine if they should be changed.

I doubt that the procedure says discharge your weapon when the suspect is not facing you, or if the suspect seems confused or does not understand what is being yelled at them that you can violently restrain them causing injury. I know if I had many people yelling at me all at once I would have trouble figuring out what to do first. I know that you need processes and procedures to provide structure but there must be room for critical thinking.

I have an eight-year-old non-verbal autistic biracial grandson. I could see him walking out of a store without paying for something because he doesn’t understand. If someone yells at him to stop or grabs him, he will get agitated, scream and start to “stim,” which is a way of trying to calm himself down. I live in fear that he might be killed because he did not understand what was being shouted at him and the people doing the shouting “follow procedure” without looking at the whole picture. De-escalation needs to be used whenever possible instead of military tactics. We are your community, not your enemy.

Jill Bossen


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