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Escondido police discusses updated de-escalation policies

Posted at 12:15 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 09:20:16-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - The Escondido Police Department is putting more emphasis on its updated de-escalation policies.

"We strongly believe this policy gives direction to our officers that, when possible, we want them to slow things down, use sound strategies and develop a plan of ending difficult and emotionally charged incidents without the need for physical force," Escondido Police Chief Ed Varso said.

The police department collaborated with several community groups to make the policy. The chief held a news conference with the groups' leaders on Monday. You can read the full policy here.

A section of the policy called "APPLICATION AND METHODS OF DE-ESCALATION" elaborates on the procedures and practices.

A. Pre-engagement- When feasible and when circumstances dictate, officers should attempt to gather and access historical and/or other relevant information prior to making contact. Available information should be used when evaluating tactics and available resources.

B. Engagement- When feasible and when circumstances dictate, officers should deploy engagement tactics consistent with Department policy and training. Some of those tactics may include active listening, establishing effective lines of communication, presenting lawful orders, requesting cooperation, and providing clear and concise direction to achieve voluntary compliance.

C. Disengagement- In some situations, disengagement may be a viable option for individuals in crisis who pose no additional threats to others, or resistant offenders who may later be apprehended under safer conditions. Disengagement is not a retreat or loss of control, but is an option to withdraw any further contact and/or speech in order to defuse or prevent unintended or unwanted events.

Yusef Miller is a co-founder of The North County Equity and Justice Coalition, a group that worked with the police department in shaping the de-escalation policy. He says while the tactics are not new, he believes making the applications policy is a step in the right direction.
"Once it's policy and the department enforces the policy, now there are consequences for breaking policy," Miller said.

The Department says it will conduct annual training on the de-escalation.

The police chief added the policy is not done and will likely never be done, as they are always looking to improve on policies and continue to get input from the community.