Kingston police trainer talks de-escalation in wake of Toronto van attack
After a Toronto police officer peacefully brought in the suspect in Monday’s deadly van attack, CKWS wanted to find out more about how officers are trained to deal with potentially deadly situations. Bill Hutchins sat down with Sgt. Stephen Carter, who is the head of the Kingston Police training unit.
Carter explained that Kingston Police are specifically taught how to de-escalate extremely stressful situations. He said the way Const. Ken Lam disarmed and arrested the suspect, Alek Minassian, who allegedly mowed down dozens of people in North York on April 23, was a textbook example of how an officer should be dealing with high-stress situations.
“We’ve been using [de-escalation techniques] for decades in Kingston,” said Carter. He believes that Kingston is ahead of the curve when it comes to de-escalation because of the precinct’s dedication to training its officers.
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One specific technique Carter singled out was their partnership with Queen’s University drama students. These students act out crisis situations and officers are able to practice their reactions to potentially dangerous events.
“We build a very wide range of scenarios,” said Carter. “It really helps.”
The officers training in these dramatizations are also equipped with heart monitors. Carter says that often in high-stress situations, cognitive critical thinking goes out the window and is replaced by adrenaline-fueled reactions.
“We’re trying to de-escalate ourselves so we have a chance to end these situations peacefully,” Carter said. He added that if they cannot plan for every situation, they try to control police reaction.
“If we can control the human body we can control that process better.”
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