Thursday, September 22, 2016

DPS on de-escalation training: We already do that

Among the settlement terms leaked to the press in the Sandra Bland case this week was a statement that the Texas Department of Public Safety would provide de-escalation training for current and future troopers.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Waller County agreed to the terms, including shelling out $1.8 million, on Wednesday. In an emailed press release, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said the county will be "increasing the training and education of jail employees in respect to mental health assessments in jail and improving our policies and processes."

Another $100,000 is said to be forthcoming from the Texas Department of Public Safety, although spokesman Tom Vinger says that DPS hasn't settled and is not a party to any agreements between the plaintiffs and Waller County.

Technically, DPS isn't a party, since the lawsuit named Trooper Brian Encinia, who was terminated earlier this year and faces a perjury charge. So how could they be responsible for any settlement terms?

Cannon Lambert, Geneva Reed-Veal's lead attorney, said DPS will be paying Encinia's piece of the settlement, and in a phone call, said the training agreement was true despite DPS' statement. "It's just one of the things that Ms. Geneva was very interested to see happen. Obviously she knows she can't get Sandy back, but there are things she can impact going forward," Lambert said. He said DPS agreed to implementing deescalation training taught by a third-party both in the field and for new recruits.

"We understood that it would be done very soon," Lambert said, adding that better deescalation tactics would have kept Bland out of the Waller County Jail, where she later died.

But according to Vinger, new recruits already get training on deescalation. He also said that "earlier this year," DPS began requiring troopers to complete an 8-hour deescalation course - provided by the Texas Police Association, a third-party.

When told about DPS' comment, Lambert said, "That's not what they conveyed to us." He also said that the agreement was that DPS was willing to "look at the circumstances and change what they are doing." Lambert is pleased that deescalation training will be enhanced, saying, "I just wish they'd have done this a year and a half ago."

[From 9/18/16 Grits postPolicy folks seeking more background on deescalation training and policies should check out the Police Executive Research Forum's "Guiding Principles on Use of Force" (pdf, 136 pages).]

RELATED: From the Texas Tribune, "DPS changes in wake of Sandra Bland death in dispute."


Anonymous said...

What exactly is "deescalation training?" Not resorting to deadly force when a suspect has a weapon? Or when they're reaching into their pockets or into a vehicle? Seems to me that in today's climate (see Dallas, Baton Rouge, Phoenix, etc.) we're asking a lot of officers to want them to give criminals the benefit of the doubt when they can't be certain a suspect isn't armed or isn't a threat to officers. Just my opinion.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, it's being smart enough to avoid getting to that crisis situation in the first place, not ignoring a suspect with a drawn weapon. There's a link in the post to an extensive description and analysis of deescalation training if you truly want an answer to your question. My sense is you're probably just trolling.

Anonymous said...

Police are narcissist they shoot first where there will not be questions. Now with body cameras has helped but they will not release video until they have edited in their favor.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, it's being smart enough to avoid getting to that crisis situation in the first place, not ignoring a suspect with a drawn weapon. There's a link in the post to an extensive description and analysis of deescalation training if you truly want an answer to your question. My sense is you're probably just trolling.

Gunny Thompson said...

Alternatively, as in New Mexico, before shooting and assassinating a citizen, the body camera is turned off, then turn on after the assassination.

john said...

CIRCA 25 YEARS AGO, when the USPS post office went postal, where some of the union numbskulls became violent; the government "fixed" it in the public eye, with large celebrity TV campaigns--reassuring us all was rosy, plus MORE pay and MORE health (notably mental health) benefits, to the postal employees, who were already drastically overpaid, etc.
De-escalation training MUST involve alerting Cops that We The Poor People REALLY DO FEAR FOR OUR LIVES (and we will Not get paid administrative leave, and the courts will Not cover it up, for us).

Without that, it's window dressing--mostly to temporarily get past the bad publicity.
Perhaps go to bean-bag guns, only calling out the bullets (SWAT?), if drug-runners and/or terrorists attack? I note some recent case where they shot white folks with bean bags, yet they always shoot black folk with bullets.
Then there are tasers--although cops have notoriously over-used them.
{{Note: there was never any constitutional authority for federal police, let alone heavily-armed. That came much from Gay Edgar Hoover, Prohibition & lying TV shows.}}

Gunny Thompson said...

John, to your point, Government Brown Shirts are para-military,as such are public officers not entitled to unions. During 1947, Local Government Code 1269M (now Local Government Code 142) was passed, requiring a vote by the people to determine whether local fire and Police departments are authorized to enact a local collective bargain agreement. The measure was improperly passed and is therefore invalid, requiring officers only two-year terms of appointment.

When implementing Article 143, Municipal Civil Service for firemen and policemen, The legislators exceeded their authority when autorizing permanent employment tenure to those appointees.

Anonymous said...

In reading some of the comments I tend to agree that police unions should be outlawed (or at least severely curtailed). This will require federal legislation. And the only true way to control law enforcement is by the funding, right? Any rural county Sheriff would agree. So, tie the accountability back to the pensions and funding. Control the pensions and control the police accountability. Of note is the recent pension fund issues in Dallas. The fund is screwed and a lot of senior officers want to bail before it gets worse. Eventually, there will be officers retiring with absolutely no money. Guess who is going to bail them out? Yep, taxpayers. There are officers in that retirement program that will be walking away with 1.5 million dollars in their individual retirement accounts. If 100 of those officers left the agency in the next 60-90 days (which is likely) can you imagine what would happen?

DPS is a strange beast in that it has severely limited union representation (almost none at all). And look at their problems. What? You say there aren't any (many)? That's because they have the autonomous ability to single-handedly remove those problems without interference. At the slightest hint of any issues DPS will remove an officer from employment faster than Ted Cruz can eat a booger. The drawback is, why would anyone want to work there if there is not the same level of due process for officers as in any major metropolitan agency. Very good question indeed.

Gunny Thompson said...

Anonymous @02:35: In addressing your last point: Major Metropolitan agency policies are largely pressured in granting undo entitlements to their firemen and police agencies. Those entitlements are granted as de gratia, or "favor," and not by law. A similar condition is faced by prosecutors when determining criminal charges to be filed against firemen and police.

As in the Dallas police pension issue, it appears that Dallas has similar problems as Houston. In Houston, to take a benefit in the pension system,a number of Houston officers chose to retire. A condition that was unlawfully orchestrated by the officers and city administration. The Houston City Charter requires a vote of citizens before approval, which the citizens were denied.

Unless otherwise provided, officers are prohibited from resigning their position unless and until there has been a duly appointed and qualified replacement for their positions.

One last point: If Dallas officers choose to resign prior to receiving a replacement legally, then they are deserters, not entitled to any pay or benefits from the city. Moreover, they would be prohibited from acceptance on any future government employment. Remember Ronald Regan and the Traffic Controller incident? The same applies in this instance.

Anonymous said...

The psychopaths who make up the majority of DPS troopers can take all the de-escalation training in the world and it won't make one bit of difference because it goes against their psyche. Watch the Bland video and you can clearly see that this useless stormtrooper Encinia was intentionally trying to agitate Bland and escalate the situation.

How anyone with an education can believe any type of training would help end these types of incidents is beyond me. Encinia became a law enforcement officer just so he could have power and control over others, and anything short of intensive pre-employment psychological testing will fail to prevent even one incident.

When used by someone in law enforcement the word "Training" has become the go-to answer for every single problem in the profession. And it's said with the same wink and grin as an inside joke because it's just an opportunity for overtime and getting drunk afterwards in the hotel bar.