Missourians want more de-escalation training for law enforcement

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JEFFERSON CITY -A survey conducted by the Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST), a division of the Department of Public Safety, illustrated deescalation training as a primary concern among Missourians.

The POST Commission held three public discussions about the results of the survey, on August 26, August 31 and Sept. 2.

The survey and the discussions that followed were a result of Gov. Mike Parson asking the commission to look into how law enforcement can strengthen relations with the community.

Department of Public Safety Communications Director Mike O'Connell said, "The idea was to get the opinions, the ideas of law enforcement officers and the public, and consider them, weigh them, and then begin the process of what we need to do as far as the training priorities in Missouri."

In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory that noted African Americans in Missouri are 75% more likely to be stopped by officers than Caucasians. O'Connell responded to a question on whether any thought had been given on how that might play a role in deescalation cases.

"The POST Commission is interested in looking at this holistically. They're not just looking at what we need to do as far as deescalation," O'Connell said. "They're going to be looking at implicit bias; they're going to be looking at data related to traffic stops and disparities."

The commission will meet for the first time following these discussions on October 5, and they could decide then on whether to make changes to police training.