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IMPD officers trained to talk instead of confront

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Explaining its better to think and talk than put hands on citizens, IMPD officers launched a four-day long training session Tuesday to survive verbal conflict and de-escalate situations with words instead of handcuffs.

Following the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by two young police officers this summer, Chief Bryan Roach and Mayor Joe Hogsett decided to step up IMPD’s programs for verbal de-escalation, implicit bias awareness and mid-management training.

The first session, to train veteran officers who will then take on teaching the empathy and conversational skills to recruits this December and the rest of the department in 2018, began Tuesday morning at the IMPD Training Academy.

The Dolan Consulting Group, LLC, headed by retired police chief and NYPD veteran Harry Dolan, will deliver the 28-hour training session.

“Definitely this summer was a catalyst for that, it allowed us to afford that and bringing them in, putting some structure around what we’ve already been doing I think is going to be a great assistance to us,” said Roach. “Today we’re doing train the trainer for de-escalation so you have thirty officers in there who are well respected, who get it, who understand that time is on our side and the better we are able to communicate, the better things fare for both our officers and our citizens.”

Dolan explained that patrolmen and women need to ask questions and observe the citizens they encounter as opposed to jumping to conclusions and a solution which could involve arrest or misinterpreted commands.

“’If your safety is not threatened or you’re not at risk, officer, can you try to do a little Aristotle?’” Dolan asked. “’Could you try to persuade them? Could you listen to the meaning of what they are saying and not listen to the words?’

“I don’t think that Americans at times doubt that we have to use force less than three percent of the time, but we’re going to have to do that, but how are we expressing to people how we make choices and options? I think that’s good police work.”

Dolan cited the recent arrest of a Salt Lake City, Utah, nurse after she refused a detective’s command for a blood draw from an unconscious man that was counter to both hospital policy and state law.

“I know that every agency in the country, just like Utah today with everyone’s looking and acting what happened there. My argument is that the training tape ran out,” he said.

Sgt. Mechelle Caster is a field training officer who will take what she’s learned in the classroom and translate it for recruits new to policing.

“You have to listen first before you speak and that there is a ‘Why?’” she said. “Everyone has a ‘Why?’ and you need to figure out what that ‘Why?’ is. Finding out what is actually happening with the problem and being able to de-escalate it via verbal versus going hands on.”

Tuesday’s training is just the first set of classes that will expose dozens of officers and community members to improved techniques of policing.

Civilians interested in undergoing training in recognizing implicit bias are urged to call the IMPD Chief’s Office at (317) 327-3282.

Last month, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced he had handed the case of the fatal police action shooting of Aaron Bailey over to a special prosecutor in St. Joseph County to determine if the IMPD Northwest District officers violated state law when they shot the driver four times in the back after he crashed his car fleeing from a traffic stop.