Research Study: De-Escalation Policies Increase Attacks On Police

Brian Landers' study shows an increase in attacks on police after agencies add de-escalation policies.

Brian Landers’ study shows an increase in attacks on police after agencies add de-escalation policies.

De-Escalation Policies May Endanger Officers

Wisconsin Dells, WI – The latest research shows that de-escalation policies don’t work, and actually put police officers’ lives in more danger.

Brian Landers, author of this study, said,  “The agencies without de-escalation policies, the number of officers killed and assaulted were dramatically lower than the agencies with de-escalation policies in place,” according to WISC-TV.

His study actually showed police officers who work for agencies that have de-escalation policies “are far more likely to be killed or injured in the line of duty.”

Landers collected data for five years from over 75,000 police officers in metropolitan law enforcement agencies around the country; some already had de-escalation policies while others didn’t.

In a de-escalation policy, officers are required to slow things down, and ‘attempt to lessen’ or ‘avoid force on all calls.’  Sounds simple, but a dynamic situation cannot be defined like that.  This assumes that officers have control over the situation in cases when they don’t. An officer’s decisions are based on a suspect’s choices, and the slightest hesitation could be tragic for the officer.

He said, “I’ve had officers tell me that they are forced with decisions out on the street that goes against every facet of training and instinct of officer safety from fear they are going to be disciplined because the policy is telling them that they should not use force.”

His research showed that, “Overall an officer working in a de-escalation agency, by my study, was twice as likely to be killed in the line of duty and 10 times more likely to be injured in the line of duty.”

Landers said that de-escalation is a powerful tool for police officers, but believes that it shouldn’t be the first response for all calls. Responses should be based on an officer’s training and totality of the ongoing situation.

He said, “They are dealing with people that are high on heroin and fentanyl.  They are dealing with a wide variety of other types of mental illness and alcoholism where people are raging, violent and uncontrollable.”  Research from a previous study by the Police Executives Research Forum made their case that de-escalation actually improved officer safety.

Landers said, “Hopefully my research is going to be a call for policymakers to strongly look at any type of policy that they have and make sure that their policies are not threatening their own officers.”

This study matches FBI data which shows attacks on officers increase if they use force later than their peers.

His study was for his master’s degree thesis.  Landers is a retired police officer, having worked for the Wisconsin Dells Police Department from 1992-2010.  He is currently chair of the Criminal Justice Department of Madison College, and is in his third term as Mayor of Wisconsin Dells, according to the City of Wisconsin Dells website.