New Bill Would Require Police Learn De-escalation Techniques or Lose Federal Funding

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) introduces the "Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act."



A newly proposed bill in the House of Representatives would deprive police departments of federal funds if they do not provide mandatory training of de-escalation techniques and require the use of such techniques afterward. 

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) introduced the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act last Thursday, which she told The Guardian was inspired by the recent efforts of that outlet and others in creating databases which attempt to count each and every incident where police have deployed deadly force on citizens. 

Moore's bill, which has little chance of surviving the Republican-controlled House, would penalize non-compliant PDs of 20 percent of their annual funding from the Department of Justice's Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which doles out about $280 million a year to local police departments. 

According to The Guardian:

Surveys by the Police Executive Research Foundation (PERF) have found the average police cadet received 58 hours of training on using guns, 49 hours on defensive tactics, and only eight hours on de-escalation. Moore based her proposal on a report by PERF published earlier this year, which set out a series of "guiding principles on use of force".

Among the techniques Moore's bill requires:

  • the use of alternative non-lethal methods of applying force and techniques that prevent the officer from escalating any situation where force is likely to be used;
  • verbal and physical tactics to minimize the need for the use of force, with an emphasis on communication, negotiation, de-escalation techniques, providing the time needed to resolve the incident safely for everyone;
  • the use of the lowest level of force that is a possible and safe response to an identified threat, then re-evaluating the threat as it progresses;
  • techniques that provide all officers with awareness and recognition of mental health and substance abuse issues with an emphasis on communication strategies, training officers simultaneously in teams on de-escalation and use of force to improve group dynamics and diminish excessive use of force during critical incidents

De-escalation training has met with some success in places like Seattle, but police unions such as Los Angeles' have forcefully pushed back on the very concept as potentially deadly for officers, who they claim would be put in a "no-win situation" if officers were required to consider not using force in a volatile situation.