Human Resources News & Insights

Conflict management tactics used in Dallas’ police department

From 2009 to 2014, the Dallas Police Department has reduced the number of excessive force complaints by 64%. Translation: Officers got better at managing conflict. 

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Police Chief David Brown said the figures represented the most dramatic development in policing he’d seen in the country.

The leading contributing factor to that number? Aggressive and consistent retraining for the past five years, according to Brown.

While police officers are often involved in situations different than what the everyday office manager will face, there are valuable core HR and management training lessons that can be gleaned from the Dallas PD’s training methods.

Let cooler heads prevail

The Dallas PD’s success is attributed to a few factors that might look familiar to you:

  • Increased the occurrence of training sessions, and
  • Training that took place out of a classroom setting.

All the Dallas PD’s training sessions have been modeled after real situations, caught on dash and body cams. They were shown others’ successes and failures, and then studied how effective certain tactics were before being asked to use the tactics themselves.

And that model should look familiar. It’s meant to teach people by simulating a real-life situation within a controlled environment. That way, whenever someone is in a similar situation later on, it’s familiar rather than new and intimidating.

Not only has the method of training made a big difference, it’s also some of the specifics being covered that have helped officers better manage/resolve conflict.

Brown says, officers are being trained to approach stressful situations in a way some police veterans think is counterintuitive:

  • Don’t rush into the situation
  • Build rapport with all the parties
  • Speak in a calm soft voice, and
  • Give everyone time to think.

Essentially, it lays the groundwork for open communication between all the parties involved.

Brown also said one of the most effective methods officers have been taught to use is letting all parties know they have time. Not only can it potentially scale back a tense situation, it’ll give the mediator time to think through any options that might have been missed.

Often, people engaged in conflict can feel pressured and get caught up in making a decision when they feel time is running out. That decision may not be the best for everyone involved, and be more of an emotional reaction than empirical.

Alleviate that pressure and let cooler heads prevail.

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