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Tactical Disengagement

As police officers we play a critical role in crisis intervention situations, often facing high-stress, volatile, and potentially dangerous circumstances. Our primary duty is to maintain public safety, it is equally important for officers to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to de-escalate situations and practice tactical disengagement when necessary. Tactical disengagement involves carefully withdrawing from a mental health crisis event, reducing confrontation, and minimizing the risk of harm to both officers and the individuals involved.

First, is to Recognize the Importance of Tactical Disengagement:

Tactical disengagement should be viewed as a valuable tool in an officer's crisis intervention toolkit. It aims to prevent the escalation of potentially violent situations and provides an opportunity for alternative, non-confrontational approaches to resolving conflicts. By understanding that tactical disengagement is not a sign of weakness but rather a strategic decision to prioritize safety, officers can make informed choices that align with their duty to protect and serve. Our first job should always be to not make things worse.

Second, is Assessing the Risk-Benefit Ratio:

Before implementing tactical disengagement, officers must conduct a thorough risk assessment. This involves evaluating the immediate danger posed to all parties involved and considering the potential consequences of continued engagement. Factors such as the presence of weapons, the mental state of the individuals, and the overall environment should be carefully analyzed. By weighing the risks against the benefits, officers can determine how and when to disengage tactically, ensuring a safer and more effective resolution.

Third We Should Maintain Effective Communication:

Clear and effective communication is essential during tactical disengagement. Officers should articulate their intention to disengage while remaining respectful and calm. It is crucial to provide clear instructions, reassurances, and alternative solutions, if possible, to encourage cooperation and reduce hostility. It’s also important to clearly articulate any safety boundaries that may exist. By establishing open lines of communication, officers can lay the groundwork for future engagement and a more positive outcome.

Fourth is to Employ De-escalation Techniques:

Tactical disengagement often goes hand in hand with de-escalation techniques. Officers should be trained in various de-escalation strategies, such as active listening, empathy, and maintaining a non-threatening posture. It is crucial that the person leading the communication efforts, label the emotion and employ mirroring throughout the incident. These techniques can help defuse tension, build rapport, and foster an environment conducive to resolving conflicts peacefully. By utilizing de-escalation skills alongside tactical disengagement, officers can reduce the need for force and improve the chances of a successful resolution.

Finally, We Have to Practice Self-Awareness and Officer Safety:

Officers must prioritize their own safety during crisis interventions. This includes recognizing personal stress levels, fatigue, and the impact of external factors on decision-making abilities. By remaining self-aware, officers can better manage their responses and avoid escalating volatile situations unintentionally. Understanding the importance of self-care, seeking support, and debriefing after challenging incidents is crucial for maintaining both physical and mental well-being. An important question to ask is who the best person that is here to perform this task. Don’t leave things up to chance, put your team in a position for positive outcomes.

Tactical disengagement plays a vital role in crisis intervention, enabling officers to navigate complex situations while prioritizing safety and minimizing harm. A quick assessment is to consider what crime has occurred, if any, and who is in danger. This will guide the urgency in resolving the issue.

By recognizing its importance, assessing risk, maintaining effective communication, employing de-escalation techniques, and prioritizing officer safety, law enforcement professionals can enhance their ability to resolve crises peacefully. Continued training and a commitment to ongoing improvement in crisis intervention techniques are essential for officers to provide the highest level of service and protect the communities they serve.

As law enforcement officers, responding to calls involving mental health crises can be some of the most challenging and complex situations we face. These calls require a delicate balance of compassion, communication, and effective de-escalation techniques to ensure a successful outcome. A critical strategy that we emphasis in our training that can greatly increase the chances of success in these situations is the intentional insertion of time and space. So let’s explore how giving time and space during mental health crisis calls can lead to better outcomes for all parties involved.

Time and space refer to the deliberate act of creating distance and allowing time for individuals in crisis to calm down and regain control of their emotions. This can be achieved by officers maintaining a safe physical distance, avoiding unnecessary movements or gestures, and using calming verbal cues to communicate with the individual. It is crucial to remember that individuals experiencing mental health crises are often in a heightened state of distress, and any perceived threat or pressure can escalate the situation further. At Trigon we believe the most important job of law enforcement when responding to mental health crisis calls, is first and foremost to not make it worse.

By giving time and space, officers allow individuals in crisis to feel less threatened and more in control of the situation. This can help reduce their anxiety, agitation, or aggression and create an environment conducive to effective communication and de-escalation. It also provides officers with the opportunity to assess the situation more thoroughly and sanitize the scene. Which will help them make informed decisions about the appropriate course of action.

In addition, time and space provide an opportunity for additional resources to arrive on the scene. Mental health professionals or crisis intervention teams may be called upon to provide specialized expertise and support. These professionals can assess

the situation, provide guidance, and offer alternative strategies to manage the crisis effectively. Time and space allow for coordination and collaboration between law enforcement and mental health professionals, leading to better outcomes for the individual in crisis.

Another factor supporting this approach is that individuals in mental health crisis may not have the cognitive capacity to process information or make rational decisions. Inserting time and space provides them with the opportunity to regain clarity and coherence, which can lead to more meaningful communication and cooperation. Rushing or pressuring the individual can escalate the situation and result in unintended consequences.

In some cases, time and space may also provide an opportunity for the individual to self-stabilize leading to voluntarily compliance with officer's instructions, reducing the need for use of force. It allows for a more peaceful resolution, preserves the dignity of the individual, and minimizes the risk of injuries or trauma.

Moreover, this aligns with the principles of community policing, which emphasizes building positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. When officers utilize this tactic, they demonstrate a commitment to understanding and addressing the underlying issues that contribute to mental health crises, rather than resorting to punitive measures. This helps to foster trust, respect, and cooperation between law enforcement and the community.

In closing, inserting time and space into mental health crisis calls is a critical strategy that can significantly increase successful outcomes for law enforcement officers. It allows individuals in crisis to regain control, officers to gather information, garner resources and make informed decisions. Hopefully inserting mental health professionals to provide specialized support. By prioritizing time and space, law enforcement agencies can demonstrate a compassionate and effective response to mental health crises, ultimately leading to safer and more positive outcomes for all parties involved. Let's strive to incorporate this strategy into our crisis intervention training and practices and prioritize the well-being of individuals experiencing mental health crises in our communities.

Overall, CIT training is an effective way to reduce officer and departmental liability by promoting a more thoughtful and compassionate approach to policing. By improving communication, reducing the use of force, and promoting safety for all involved, CIT training can help to prevent costly legal battles and protect the reputation of law enforcement departments.

1. Increased Officer Safety.

By equipping officers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively respond to crisis situations, CIT training can help improve officer safety. This can reduce the risk of injuries to officers, as well as the risk of lawsuits and other legal claims related to officer safety.

2. Improved Crisis Response.

Crisis Intervention training equips officers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively de-escalate crisis situations involving individuals experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues. By responding to these situations in a more humane and compassionate manner, officers can reduce the risk of injuries, property damage, and other negative outcomes.

3. Reduced Use of Force.

CIT training emphasizes the use of non-lethal force and encourages officers to use verbal communication and other de-escalation techniques before resorting to physical force. This can help reduce the risk of excessive force lawsuits, which can be costly for both officers and departments.

4. Improved Interagency Coordination.

CIT training promotes collaboration between law enforcement agencies, mental health professionals, and other community partners. This can help officers connect individuals in crisis with appropriate resources, reducing the risk of liability for officers and departments.

5. Enhanced Documentation.

The training also includes instruction on how to properly document interactions with individuals experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues. This can help officers provide more accurate and comprehensive reports, which can be useful in defending against lawsuits and other legal claims.

Bonus (Compliance with Legal Requirements).

Crisis Intervention training helps officers to better understand their legal obligations when responding to individuals in crisis. This can help to ensure that officers comply with legal requirements related to the use of force and the treatment of individuals with mental health conditions. As they are often different then those that apply to someone who has broken the law.

Clearing Up

CIT training will help reduce officer and departmental liability by promoting more effective crisis response, reducing the use of force, improving documentation, promoting interagency coordination, and increasing officer safety. At the very least a well ran CIT program will position your officers to not make things worst once they arrive at a crisis scene.

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