Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bland settlement requires deescalation training for DPS troopers

I appreciated Michele Deitch the other day offering an analysis of the Sandra Bland settlement from the perspective of regulating county jails. On Facebook, Grits contributing writer Eva Ruth Moravec pointed out another interesting tidbit about the state's side of the settlement from the Houston Chronicle coverage: "The DPS would provide de-escalation training for all current and future troopers statewide."

That's certainly appropriate, since former state trooper Brian Encina's unnecessary escalation of the episode was the proximate cause for the chain of events leading to Bland's death. Texas Lawyer reported that Governor Abbott personally signed off on this element of the settlement.

Requiring deescalation training for state troopers is a significant policy development which one hopes could have trickle-down effects, helping make deescalation tactics more common and culturally acceptable among Texas law enforcement across the board. DPS operates everywhere in the state, so everyone will be able to tell first hand whether deescalation tactics work as advertised. Policy 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).

Grits has come to believe that deescalation training and policies are key to changing police culture and stopping the sorts of incidents which have roiled the national psyche for the last couple of years. So it's good that the Sandra Bland settlement could make a significant contribution on this score, even if the celebration is mitigated by the knowledge that so many other forgotten lives ended in unnecessary jail deaths before we ever reached this point.


Anonymous said...

"Deescalation training?" Sounds eerily reminiscent of a North Korean "reeducation camp." You will be made to care. I guess it's asking to much for our parents and educators to raise children in a manner encourages civil behavior and respect toward law enforcement officers. It seems this is just another example of our cultural decline where acceptable behavior is now judged by the lowest common denominator. The officer's actions were the "proximate cause" of this tragedy? Heaven forbid that Miss Bland be responsible for her own choices and actions.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

What BS, 10:04! Redbaiting out of the box. You're a moron.

There was no reason for the trooper to arrest her in the first place. Her behavior did not warrant it. It was ENTIRELY his discretion (to arrest her for a Class C, a la Atwater v. Lago vista), and he used it to punish what he perceived as contempt of cop (vis a vis not putting out her cigarette when told). The formal, underlying charge at the moment he first said she was under arrest - failure to signal a lane change, because she moved into the right lane to avoid him as he sped up behind her - was as bogus as his decision to arrest her for it. She'd be alive today if he'd written her a warning and sent her along her way. Hence his abuse of discretion was "the proximate cause for the chain of events leading to Bland's death." Without that piece in the chain of events, she's still alive today.

Anonymous said...

She committed suicide.

Anonymous said...

If her family bonded her out, she'd still be alive. If she had used her turn signal. If...

One could take the Michael Brown incident and do the same thing...if he ate that morning, he might not have been angry robbing the store first before trying to disarm the officer.

One could look at every past event through that mindset and redirect any act/event in history to make it someone else's fault. Yes the trooper let his temper get the best of the situation, but SHE COMMITTED suicide.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 2:21,

You do understand that when you take someone in custody, you picked up the responsibility for their safety - including suicide?

You also do understand that if the trooper wasn't a prick and had actually acted like the professional he was supposedly trained to be he could have dealt with the situation appropriately? Of the two people involved in the traffic stop ONE (since you like upper case so much) was trained to deal with any verbal "problem" and he failed to use that training and fulfill his duty.

Sorry but he and the jail failed to fulfill their agencies policies and procedures. that makes them partially responsible. You're a bartender in most states and you let me keep drinking at your facility until I drive home DWI and kill someone, you better have some big pockets. Same here.

Lee said...

Scott, we know better than to do namecalling. We call the ideas stupid, not the people (in public at least).

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@Lee, redbaiting on this stuff in 2016 gets you labeled a moron. Once one has reached that point, it's not just one's ideas which are stupid. It's a much more fundamental situation than that.