SCI Helps Law Enforcement Train for Crisis De-Escalation

Police departments and other public safety organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of de-escalation tactics in promoting conflict resolution. Using the right words, tone and actions can make all the difference in reaching peaceful resolutions, and understanding how to turn theory into practice takes knowledge and training.

In 2021, SCI launched the training course, “Crisis De-Escalation and Conflict Resolution Skills.” Taught by Alexandra Lieben, the Deputy Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, the course is an immersive introduction to the causes of crises and the practical tools available to de-escalate crises, promote conciliation and resolve conflicts. The course offering is having an important impact for public safety in California.

“This comprehensive course is designed to improve our strained community-law enforcement relations and to help protect the life and safety of citizens and officers alike,” said Lieben. “Improved community relations help restore much needed public trust, credibility and legitimacy of law enforcement. For most members of the public, law enforcement is the most visible representation of state. Each encounter has the power to shape not only how people perceive law enforcement, but by extension, how they understand their value to society – with direct impact on participation in public life and in the democratic process.”

The most recent one-day course was offered to members of the El Monte Police Department, including acting Chief of Police Ben Lowry, as well as El Monte Councilmember and USC Assistant Chief of Inclusion and Diversity Officer for Communication, Community and Student Engagement, Dr. Maria Romero-Morales. More courses will be offered in the future, as the El Monte Police Department has committed to train its entire department in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

“For the last several years, our communities are re-envisioning community safety,” said Dr. Romero-Morales. “As part of this effort, for me as a council member, it is increasingly important to provide our officers with all the tools necessary to service our communities where our community will feel valued, respected, and understood. This course allows our officers to gain a deeper understanding of how to de-escalate and sharpen their conflict resolution skills, minimize risk to our officers and our community.”

The “Crisis De-Escalation and Conflict Resolution Skills” curriculum was developed by Lieben and SCI Instructor Dr. Doron Pely. The course is designed for public safety professionals including law enforcement, fire, EMS, health, social work, and education from local, state, and federal agencies. Interested individuals in the public safety fields can visit the SCI program page for more information and to learn about future course offerings.

Safe Communities Institute

The Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the USC Price School of Public Policy continues a more than 60-year tradition of research, interdisciplinary education, and collaboration to advance sustainable “whole-of-community” public safety strategies, policies, and programs. SCI takes a holistic approach to encouraging and informing public safety efforts through collaboration between all public safety disciplines and the communities they serve.

Officer Spotlight - Sergeant Arlen Castillo is an 18-year veteran of the El Monte Police Department. Currently assigned to the patrol division, she is also a member of the Public Information Officer team and is dedicated to building connections between the community and law enforcement. Read more.

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