Cops In This City Haven’t Killed Anyone Since 2015. Here’s One Reason Why.
By Nick Wing
The Salt Lake City Police Department has gone more than a year and a half since its last fatal officer-involved shooting. Twenty months without a death.
Across the country, police officers have shot and killed at least 367 people so far this year, according to a Washington Post tally. That’s a slighter deadlier pace than the previous two years, despite the national debate over police reform sparked by the 2014 killing of Michael Brown.
But officials in Salt Lake City have done more than talk, according to a heartening report on KSTU this week. In Utah’s capital, police have actively embraced a tactic called de-escalation.
The officers being trained in de-escalation are encouraged to communicate and empathize with suspects, take stock of the factors contributing to a confrontation, and consider ways to disengage before the situation spirals out of control, leading to the use of force.
With this policy in place, there hasn’t been a fatal encounter between officer and civilian in Salt Lake City since September 2015. That case involved a home intruder who had just stabbed a woman. The officer’s actions were found to be justified.
In 37 instances since June 2016, officers have managed to de-escalate situations in which they might otherwise have been justified in using lethal force, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown told KSTU. To emphasize the importance of this approach, officers in those incidents have been given the department’s new de-escalation award.
“The Salt Lake City Police Department is probably one of the leading agencies in the country as far as how we train and deploy and use these tactics to de-escalate and save […]