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OPD officers undergo de-escalation training

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 4:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Across the country, we’ve seen several incidents where police have used physical force to subdue a suspect lately.

Omaha Police Officers undertake a lot of training throughout the year.

Today are learning how to de-escalate a situation that may turn into a full-blown incident.

“We have to handle these incidents with a clear focus, clear thoughts, and good practice,” said Lt. Ken Fox, a training officer.

These Omaha Police Officers pulled a two-hour training session this morning. The focus, how to de-escalate potentially violent situations.

But these officers protect and serve an important segment of our population...they are school resource officers.

Part of their training centers around how to effectively communicate...and understand responses from youth that they may not be familiar with.

“This is what the kids are using nowadays,” said Fox.

While as adults, we may perceive these responses as gibberish, kids are communicating but using a slightly different language.

“Words are important and so we want to make sure that we are articulating ourselves the best way we can be and be able to articulate why we are doing what we are doing so it’s very important that we use the tools that to our officers to do that, especially when we are talking with youth,” said Fox.

They say knowing the difference between someone having a bad day, as opposed to actual mental health issues can help officers deescalate a situation.

Trainers say school resource officers need to be able to shift gears quickly in order to de-escalate a situation while gaining the trust of a student.

“Most of our SROs are some of the best officers on this department, and they have some of the most experience of the officers in this department. We take that position very seriously and not just anyone can be picked and chose as an SRO, so yeah you have to be able to stand in there and be able to have a little more patience than a regular person, a regular officer. It’s important,” said Fox.

With nearly three dozen school resource officers in Omaha, Millard, and Elkhorn schools, the goal is to work things out using words instead of physical force.

“And how we deal with these things again...plays a huge role. What’s the focus? The focus is safety, and care of the young person...right?”

If the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, then to these officers' words are their greatest weapon in de-escalation in-school incidents.

“No one’s perfect. No process is perfect so if we have issues let’s talk about it I’m sure we can come to an understanding and a compromise,” said Fox.

For parents, it’s recommended that they stress to their children that resource officers are not there to arrest students, but to assist them in whatever issues they may have.

Usually, parents can directly contact their school’s SRO to talk things out.

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