New Haven Police officers to undergo new de-escalation training

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The City of New Haven announced Monday that all New Haven Police officers will be undergoing de-escalation training.

“This training is all about connection,” said former New Haven Lt. Raymond Hassett who is back in the Elm City to lead its de-escalation training.

“This training is all about bringing the human into policing,” said Hassett.

The same techniques have been taught within conflict management training, but this is the first time it is a stand-alone training that all officers will undergo in the next couple of months.

“This is taking a step back. Being quiet. Listening more,” explained Hassett. “Having the other person feel they have our full attention. So that we can have a connection.”

And where there’s a connection Hassett says there is the trust he hopes will help diffuse potentially volatile situations.

“Only until our officers are immersed into the communities that they police where they really understand the environment, they understand the atmosphere, they understand the culture, only can true de-escalation occur,” said Rev. Steve Cousin of the Bethel AME Church in New Haven. 

“2020 was quite a year where we’re able to see a lot of these stressors could be playing into this,” said Acting New Haven Police Chief Renee Dominguez.

This training was supposed to happen last year but because of the pandemic, it was postponed until now. They say they did not want to do it virtually because it really needs to be done in person so officers can learn the techniques through role-playing and really make a connection.

Whether it be routine calls or reaction to national news like the anticipated verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial out of Minnesota, the city says it is prepared to keep the peace.

“I’m sure I share with many people the anxiety of what the result of this case will be,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.

“We support the right to demonstrate,” said Acting Chief Dominguez. “We support the right to protest.”

City leaders say they are prepared for any protests which may happen this week.

“We do not see historically people damaging property, people becoming violent,” added Mayor Elicker.

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