Master of Arts
The topic of de-escalation has gained a great deal of attention in recent years due to a high number of high-profile tragic events that involved great bodily harm or the use of deadly force. De-escalation tactics are nonphysical skills used to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from escalating into a physical confrontation. There is no shortage of news stories highlighting the conflict between law enforcement officers, law enforcement agencies, and the general public. Many times, conflict can be eliminated or reduced by breaking down barriers that may exist between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Many agencies have community outreach programs designed to involve diverse members of the community to act as a conduit to a better law enforcement/community relationship. Today’s law enforcement officer has to be functioning at a high level at all times while making sound ethical decisions. Society expects officers to enforce laws in an attempt to keep order and discipline, while at the same time being morally sensible with strong values. By having sound code of conduct policies and handling ethics complaints appropriately, agencies will build trust externally as well as within their agencies. Critical incidents in law enforcement that receive widespread attention have a way of impacting how peace officers perform their official duties. In an attempt to influence peace officer’s conduct, behaviors, or actions, federal laws provide guidance and state statutes are often amended or created to facilitate compliance and promote de-escalation. This paper will attempt to examine the topic of de-escalation in its many forms as it relates to the law enforcement profession.