The Fort Hays State University Department of Criminal Justice and University Police Department were awarded a $1.25 million grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The Community Policing Development Program grant will support the Regional De-Escalation Training Center established in August of 2020. The training provided in-person and online by Fort Hays State University will teach law enforcement officers techniques that can help resolve potentially dangerous confrontations.
“This is essential training for today’s law enforcement professionals here in Kansas and across the nation,” said FHSU President Tisa Mason. “We are immensely grateful to Senator Moran and the Justice Department for their work in bringing this federal grant to Fort Hays State University, and we look forward to expanding the university’s important work and leadership in this emerging field.”
The center at FHSU is one of several in a national network of regional centers under the direction of the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC). The NDTC has signed to establish six regional centers at FHSU and in North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Michigan, and Nevada. The NDTC is also considering two additional locations.
The training provided by FHSU places FHSU at the forefront of this vital law enforcement training initiative, and two criminal justice faculty members hold leadership positions with the NDTC. Dr. Tamara Lynn, department chair and an associate professor serves as president of the NDTC’s Executive Council, responsible for coordinating all regional training centers. “This award will allow the regional training centers to provide advanced de-escalation training to law enforcement across the U.S. at little to no cost,” said Dr. Lynn. “In this region, many agencies employ fewer than ten officers and lack funding for training, making this award even more important.” Dr. Morgan Steele, assistant professor, also serves as the research coordinator for the regional training centers.
Lynn and FHSU Police Chief Ed Howell are co-directors of Fort Hays State’s regional training center. “In today’s environment of de-fund the police, negative perceptions regarding police legitimacy and civil unrest, it is paramount that police officers apply evidence-based de-escalation skills and techniques,” said Chief Ed Howell. “Our regional training center will provide de-escalation training, using the DISC Esoterica© model, to various agencies across Kansas, the contiguous states, and to the Canadian border. This grant award validates our curriculum and will facilitate the service we provide to our region.”
An essential contribution that will extend the reach of this law enforcement training opportunity across the center’s region was provided by FHSU’s Office of Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies Innovation (TILT). TILT’s instructional design team built the Online De-escalation Training workshop as a series of immersive, self-paced, and scenario-based learning experiences delivered on a platform that features interactive components and opportunities for participants to engage with one another as part of the learning process.