TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Chief of Tucson Police is on his way to Wisconsin where he is preparing to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss de-escalation techniques for police as part of use of force training.
This comes at a time when our nation has had a series of high-profile fatal shootings by police just over the past year.
Tucson News Now talked with Chief Magnus over the phone on Sunday night. Magnus said one out of every eight calls Tucson Police respond to, involves someone who is either in a mental health crisis or emotional crisis.
He said the more resources they have the better, so that everyone can go home safely.
"A lot of the times we're dealing with individuals who may be armed with a knife or something, which is different than a gun, but of course just as dangerous in a lot of ways. But are there other options that officers can use to create distance to have a little bit more time to verbally communicate with somebody so we can deescalate a situation like that and it turns out there really are some things that work," Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said.
Chief Magnus, along with five other police chiefs from different states, will be meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan Monday morning in Janesville, Wisconsin. Chief Magnus said this is a chance to make Speaker Ryan aware of some of the challenges police face when dealing with high risk individuals.
They will discuss de-escalation training techniques that the Janesville Police Chief has used with his team.
The techniques include helping officers develop non-verbal communication skills, active listening, and tactical repositioning – to have better outcomes. Magnus said the techniques may not work in every situation, but it will help officers be better prepared overall.
"We all understand there are going to be some situations where officers just don't have those options and still may need to use deadly force. But the idea is to place a premium on the sanctity of life – really everybody's life, the officer and other individuals who are involved," Chief Magnus said.
Chief Magnus said he is looking forward to meet with Speaker Ryan because he said he's a powerful person in Congress.
"This isn't a republican or democrat issue. Good policing is something that involves folks across party lines," Magnus said.
Magnus is hoping to convey that funding from the Justice department is needed to get the right kind of training for officers.
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