What cops aren’t learning
Some police departments are embracing a set of tactics designed to reduce the use of force – and prevent police shootings. Rather than rushing in aggressively, officers back off, wait out people in crisis and use words instead of weapons.
But this training isn’t required in most states. Reveal teams up with APM Reports and finds that most cops spend a lot more time training to shoot their guns than learning how to avoid firing them.
Head over to revealnews.org for more of our reporting.
And to see some of what you’re hearing, we’re also on Instagram @revealnews.
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the investigative reporting in PR hacks this is revealed a mallet downtown San Francisco just before the afternoon July two thousand sixty police confront thirty five year old African American year dice dice and shirtless stocking a busy street corner he seems etched in tells the cops he wants to die they believe he has so they order him to take his hands out of his pockets but why has the arm to met in the heart of San Francisco and the crowd gathers they record the action of their cell phones in one video you can see four officers with guns drawn surrounding Dyson and you can hear the crowd cheering in the the the the interim police Chief Tony Jeff is at City Hall three blocks away and I took a look out and helicopters hovering and I saw quickly that this thing out you had the potential to end up in another Austin was shooting just a few weeks early to mid chapter replaces police chief was forced to resign after officers shot and killed an unarmed African American were the this time the cops to something back away from dice for Nokia in brilliance watch the news video D C police in body armor lying on top of an armored vehicle rifles trained on the set of books police fired bean bag rounds after another hour was stunned when they find the rest eyes almost four hours into the stand off the fines and the revolver candles stuffed in his pocket aces injured but he later tells a local TV station is grateful to be alive the the home still hear the choirs killing the now all this played out by design we decided this guy out to save his life decision was made I called and we didn't know he's alive today to tell Stuart the over the past couple years San Francisco has trained nearly half its police force tactics meant to de escalate the crisis the captain says one of the most important things they do to slow things down he says the department reviewed five years police shootings the sport brings out a chart showing that when police opened fire they typically made that decision fast in under a minute forty five percent of the shootings occurred we went to a minute you're up to ten percent at two minutes five percent three minutes and it just literally the graph falls off a cliff with each man the stall these things out if we create this time and distance as you can see from this graph we save lives the the the the the jobless as the backing off work case in fact just days ago say Francisco police did shoot a bit not far from where they confront appeared ice they say he was stabbing someone but police leaders and some other cities around the country still hope that better police training to help avoid the kinds of high profile shootings that have undermined in law in the last few years Michael Brown of Ferguson fourteen to fifteen year old last month back Lisa being their unconscious biases and repair relations with the black community but of all ideas only one really focused on reducing the use of force that's de escalation the kind of approached San Francisco is embrace the problem most police departments are doing that trait in most states are forcing them to this hour with teaming up with a group of investigative reporters from the American public need to look at what we spend more time their guns to learning how to avoid shooting two begin a PM Reports correspondent Curtis Gilbert visits South Georgia town where police don't do much de escalation training in spite of what happened there in two thousand fifteen most days life in Arlington Georgia is pretty un eventful it's a farming community thirty miles from the Alabama border Arlington has fourteen hundred people and one grocery store Jerry's Country meet Terry Scarborough owns the store he recognizes just about every customer who walks through the door everybody to go to church where John goes to you know what a dog's name is Sherry has a couple rocking chairs out front he's happy to sit down for few minutes and talk about the day a year and a half ago when a stranger walked into a store the man was in his late fifties and he was acting bizarre quote and scripture give it and saying anything he said to me when I sent some to him was at our fire turning my keys oh fourteen of his own place yeah basically last girls' credit they believe in God and when he said yes he went ranting Raven Adam was he threatening them or just say in this crazy scripture thing and trying to fire physically threatening note was Dan and Molly get out he left and went back to Delhi and started on Monday the girls back there alone and there is a fire and he went back at the door on my one hundred and one of Jerry's employees called the police to report the man something mentally wrong with the theory they like the idea Sargent Mickey White was off duty driving his squad car home from his job at the Early County Sheriff's Office there were no other police nearby when the call came over the radio around the tiny rolled up the man was in his car trying to get through a construction zone weights dash cam video shows what happened next the judge and went to the top instead the man gets out of his car and walks slowly toward certainly the the car now then just as he had in the grocery store man begins to sing a hymn Great Is Thy faithfulness but your hands all the cargo in the eyes you re the arrow McCoy won't advise you to use the teaser doesn't knock them into the ground it just makes a man who stumbles back then cocked his fist and charges that Sergeant White the man lands to glancing blows as the Sergeant Krause is going the the the Savage a shot by a subject is by no man is dead certain the key White had been on the scene for a total of thirty five seconds last summer a grand jury ruled the shooting was legally justified but right after he killed the man Sergeant White wondered out loud whether he'd done the right thing the dash cam recorded this conversation with another office twenty minutes after the shoot share the the doctor to pull the I couldn't find a surgeon went sans the the you did what Mickey had to do the the Mickey White did what he was trained to do but I'm left wondering whether all could have ended differently if you take another approach and I'm not the only one who has that reaction after watching the video these days over that place makes no sense Derek Collins trains police to resolve situations without violence one of these officers have to do is practice patients citizen did not have a weapon on them shows like a danger to himself or to other people things I have to be resolved within the first thirty seconds let him sing all day then stand on his car and sing until backup comes even in this post Ferguson world where it seems like every police shooting of unarmed person gets dissected and analyzed the stranger staff didn't get much attention it happened far from any major media market no one demanded to see the video there are no protest marches databases of police shootings maintained by the Guardian and The Washington Post both miss spell his name it was very touched and Gary's family didn't file a lawsuit Mema first word for a Now I don't care Clint touched in his dairy son he's thirty and for most of his life he didn't have much of a relationship with his father at the time of the shooting have been about ten years since the last eyes Dad as just a lot of resentment at that time come down early in Manila that those selfish now and then the fact he and I was going on with them bang kind of settle on and add to that only unanimous with me because there were so little media coverage very touched and staff Clint didn't even know there was a video of the incident when I tell him I have a copy of my laptop he asked if he can watch it parents are you sure you want to see this yeah yeah yeah I thought and into the fray okay I use the linen is doing a known listens in silence as his father's teased and takes a swing at certain way when the shot is fired is Dan Sargent white or off camera the lid on it yet dang them there I kind of pressing on us the last thing a sane than soon as you know wow this sounds like it was uncalled for you know the hosts a not just the force the police know him now is like this mind boggling I was coming from not I'm the one that's always running with all of that idea read No drove the a stranger in Arlington tortilla in half an hour up the road where he grew up in Newton just about everybody knew Jerry touched friends say he was popular in high school his family had was younger but his father made some bad investments and lost the farm or cable or New Stone the trailer park where dairy lived until a couple years before he died she says on Gary's good days you couldn't hope for a better friend there was all black lady love and she loved him and they were both having a hard financially a guy's disabilities started and he would go catch fish of the river and bring would cook for both Misha second person the Marquis de was also familiar with various problems she was one of the counselors at the local mental health clinic she says he was bipolar and occasionally suffer from delusions jury once told friends he punched a hole through a concrete wall another time he said one baseball scholarship to the University of Georgia markets as a mental health worker she took training on how to deal with people like Terri and she wishes more police did too I have of respect for most law enforcement people but wildlife them to recognize is in the training in this area and not just for mental health reasons but lat day than most alcoholics and drug addicts dealing with domestic violence dating appearance or upset when I had to go and take the child all these are volatile situations and I have the potential to blow up in your face the officer who killed Gary had been involved in other volatile situations after the shooting Sargent Mickey White had to tell agents from the Georgia Bureau of investigations about one of the the this the twenty six to the macaroni family was having another squabble or to Mak or ayah is sixty two and has lived in the trailer at the end of a muddy dirt path for most of his life he's got to fix South Georgia accent and can talk pretty fast maybe maze and I will agree with them to get a sense argument be made sometimes we don't agree sometimes he's talking about his brother Terry Turner useless next or any use to get arguing of the family get AJ's and position mean it's going to get out of hand sometimes and then call the police police would come and settle him down he go home to his house Joseph and King is just a family thing I thought but that night in two thousand and nine it wasn't the usual officer who responded it was Milky white he'd taken a job with the Baker County Sheriff's Office earlier that year white tried to arrest Terri but he told the investigators carry wouldn't cooperate the spray the place with the lyrics or maybe I'll try to push into the ground who should be on that just the money somewhere during the New York where I come back to the love of all the yummy new Terry McElroy survived but he still has a scar on his chest from a bullet wound remove food for the two went down to wind down we go we bring you the film when no one will you know been off the field in the Terry eventually pleaded guilty to obstructing an officer investigation cleared a key White of any wrongdoing in the shooting he wouldn't talk to me for this story Ricky White has been a cop for fifteen years in that time he shot two unarmed people he's never taken a course in de escalation but he has taken more than six hundred hours of training and other subjects in fact on the day Sergeant White killed very touched and White had just attended a five hour training session and it wasn't just any train was called firearms re qualification and use of deadly force has been part of the morning doing target practice on the shooting range and the other part of learning when he could legally open fire on someone describe inform a PowerPoint presentation captain will coddle taught the deadly force class at the Early County Sheriff's Office that day he's been doing it since twenty ten the training and air forces focused on the coat section is basically going to write out the law code that is when we get that training from Have there been any significant changes to like the kinds of topics are covering with officers have not been changed in the law also are trying one of changes force which required when you're all dressed use deadly force when police use deadly force the law is generally on their side if an officer reasonably believes there's a threat to his safety or someone else's and he's allowed to shoot cold and spend any time teaching officers how to resolve a situation without firing their weapons the the weight training history is pretty typical we look to trading records in other states like Georgia have or require police departments to train officers in de escalation those records show officers usually don't get that kind of training just like Mickey White we review training records from every law enforcement officer in the state of Georgia it's remarkable how little of their training is devoted to de escalation it accounted for about one percent of all the training hours over the last five years the Early County where Mickey White works considerably less than that I want to see the Early County Sheriff to find out why they William Price has held this office since twenty twelve he was the first black sheriff ever elected here a very big fight about it was basically say it was impossible to price has a handmade placard on his desk it says back the blue I saw similar signs around happy hour last night you know what Kali share price describes Milky white as a good ole country boy and a great employee does make a way like daisies is as good if he isn't interested in second guessing the shooting of Gary touched an or how Sergeant was trained but what if the situation from nine to fail a lot of folks don't realize we have two seconds make a decision people around the cave and it is all day you know it was just five shoot mess that is basically the new strain is where track of what you know there's this whole like line of training that you know slow down the action give yourself some space to give yourself some more time don't try to resolve the situation is quickly do you think that an approach like that might have led to an outcome where that guy isn't dead that's the import surge situation you may came going approach associate with certain why but in that situation in BAM it happened the the the I just like to pause there for a moment the sheriff says a de escalation training wouldn't work because the situation unfolded so quickly one of the key things officers learning de escalation training is to slow things down so out of six hundred hours of training why didn't sergeant might spend even one of them learning about ways to avoid shooting people share price questions the value of formal de escalation training he sees that as a skill that simply comes with experience the first five meals of my love for Korea about hit the guy they were about to put him in a chorus that makes five the ladies are talking again from my experience over twenty some years of his Spirit's ended up trying his best you can get Kane a way to teach you how to de escalate no battle that industry success you learn quickly I think there's a whole bunch of BS police de escalation trainer Derek Collins says the skills he teaches don't come naturally to every cop and the reason why is this everybody is not as emotionally intelligent as other people last year Derek's organization contacted more than one hundred and fifty law enforcement agencies in Georgia to offer them de escalation training only to police departments signed up we should add at least a hundred times more officers in his training and no one side is out the people that we've gotten a trainee with awe sought them out and is a shame the whole experience left Derek feeling cynical especially when he sees all the other train police are doing then go to police training that and it got people's up an online calendar or police trainers advertise their classes we saw one de escalation training right and there ok yes to the ski was going down that emerging line first and legal trends Internet tools or criminal investigators hands on electrical fire arresting officer involved shootings statement Analysis career protection resiliency criminal patrol drug interdiction oh and as me so we saw three so far out of I don't know maybe hundred and fifty two under with all the shootings that happen you would think this boar will be filled with the escalation transit is not the jerks as police chiefs are willing to make de escalation training a priority someone is going to have to make him do it and in Georgia someone in December of twenty six team the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council voted to require every officer in the state to take at least one hour of de escalation training every year it's not a huge amount but it's a lot more than most Georgia police departments have been doing Kurds killed of course but with a PM reports and investigative journalism group based American public be after the break could fix it to Minneapolis will be cops who are changing their approach to people like very touched I just was very honest with the modern I thought that his behavior appeared paranoid and he basically started crying that's in the minutes reveal the Center for investigative reporting NPR asks the listeners to levy ten here reveals digital editor here revealed were always coming up with new ways to experience or journalists we need help from listeners like you we want you to become a reveal insider you can be the first to learn about our experiments and test them out in fact we have a big one coming down the pipe in just a few weeks we want to hear what you think about it as a thank you for participating you'll get an exclusive piece reveals flag so head on over to reveal News dot org slash insiders to sign up you'll be helping us make our stories better again that's reveal News dot org slash insiders the The Center for investigative reporting in PR next this is revealed a mallet thirty five seconds that's how long it took between the time Sargent Mickey White pulled up in his squad car in the moment he shot and killed very touched and who are all Georgians in Ferguson Missouri the shots that killed Michael Brown was fired less than two minutes after police arrived took just ninety seconds ninety seconds later Brown was dead before the lender can steal a Minnesota was just over Middleton in a one minute traffic stop in Falcon Heights for twelve year old Tami Reiss playing with a pellet gun in the park in Cleveland it was less than two seconds between the time police rolled up on the scene and opened fire killing a half second it happened in a blink of an eye so it all led up to four people dead in under four minutes experts believe it's no coincidence that so many police shootings happened so little time they say if police slowdown could save lives today we're taking an in depth look at One Way Police Department training officers to take their time to something called a de escalation Curtis Gilbert and his colleagues at eight pm Reports found most police departments spend hardly any time training in de escalation even though they spend a lot of time doing various other trainings for the next part of our story Curtis Texas to Minnesota to see how this change actually works the more the I like this training session was held in a nondescript government building surrounded by farmland on the rural fringes of the Minneapolis offers more than forty people attended including both cops and county social workers this eight hour course focuses on how to resolve a mental health crisis without resorting to violence slow back off take over yet dull half to win retired Police Chief Paul nineteen is one of the instructors for this training one way he teaches officers to slow down the situation is through better communication among team advises them to avoid asking yes or no questions you need to open and those questions what's bothering you you're mad how come you're mad so that people will tell you what they're thinking about at the end of the training session the cops and social workers get a chance to practice those techniques they were going to work this about fifteen minutes or so will I sit in on one of the group's Jean ramps and works in the county Human Services Department she's assigned to play and agitated Alzheimer's patient Charles the earth the temper tantrum the rest of me man deputy Ryan admins from the Sheriff's Office plays himself wedged my terrace I don't know I don't know where it is I haven't seen my stop maybe Claire knows we're clear you can certainly ask Karen whose clarity of Edmonds is trying out an active listening technique covered in the class the idea is to show you're paying attention by repeating the last thing someone says and turning it into a question the work for me she works for you to be admins took another the escalation training a couple years ago he says he never learned this stuff when he started his career going through training like twelve years ago in the deadly don't have any same or similar topics more of a hands on use of force issues not communication skills active listening skills rarely touch much on that all you've been to a train like this before and have you had an opportunity applies most of the everyday absolute yet works really well in well this kind of training especially is most police officers will go firing anyone so you can't train the officers and then check back to see whether fewer people the next year they probably anyone but embrace this training say in Dallas Texas the the department saw an eighteen percent drop in the use of force use of force means more than just shooting it also includes everything from wrestling with the suspect to teasing Las Vegas also made a major push for de escalation and saw use of force to climb but the most powerful evidence that training works comes from the cops who've done it Jennifer lethargic joined the Minneapolis Police Department twenty one years ago back then she says officers were trained to empathize with people or understand mental illness was Artic remember she was taught three simple steps to get people to comply with orders ask Tell me ask them to do it like to do if they don't do it tell them to do is like and then that doesn't happen you make them make them means use physical force and all those fights have taken their toll I stubbed my toe one time in a fate which damaged my toe to the point where it's now fused I have a wrist issue that when I was trying to arrest somebody he did the lakes with a lot of his little coat thing and I fell landing on the palms of my hands and injured my wrist it'll always hurt but Officer lethargic isn't getting into as many fights she use to the reason she says is a few years ago the department put her thru de escalation training I should probably begin by having you just tell me where we are and what would you want me to tell you where we are full of water in the sky ways of Minneapolis even cops have a hard time navigating the maze of the Minneapolis Skyway system it's a series of elevated enclosed bridges connecting most of the buildings in the downtown business district you can walk from one end of downtown to the other without ever going outside in the cold of winter or the heat of summer picture an eight mile long foodcourt winding from the second floor of one building to the next I met officers are chick here because it's one of the places where she put her escalation training to work in January she and her partner answered a nine one one call from a security guard here homeless man was screaming at the morning crowds in the sky ways accusing people of trying to steal his cell phone was our chicken or partner found him in the lobby of a finance for as we approached I could see kind of a group of maybe ten to fifteen people standing in a circle in front of the task between the pots and a killer ate there at the center of the circle was the man still agitated and screaming he was sitting on the ground some twenty years ago that would've been OK you go on one side of the mug