BLACKSBURG, Va. – As nationwide calls for police reform continue, some local departments are already making changes.
In the push for police reform, many are calling for de-escalation and Virginia Tech police are listening.
“The more training we receive, the more techniques we’re able to use,” said Virginia Tech officer George Gymer.
Officers Gymer and Micah Pasquarell are in the midst of advanced de-escalation training.
“Took kind of the art of speaking to people and made it more of a science,” explained Pasquarell.
They are learning the strategies firsthand and will later train fellow officers in the department.
“Sometimes we show up at an incident and we have to act immediately, but if we don’t have to act immediately, we should probably just step back and try to slow it down and think it through,” said Gymer.
These skills are not exclusively for law enforcement as university police are also teaching students about de-escalation.
It’s a big part of the department’s Resisting Aggression with Defense for Men course, teaching students how to avoid conflict or handle it in the best way possible.
“Unnecessary conflict is unnecessary. We want them to be taking more of an approach of trying to maintain peace and remove themselves from a situation that they don’t need to be in,” Pasquarell said.
The focus on holding themselves accountable has now evolved into helping students do the same.
“We are in the business of preserving human life, not taking it. And so for us, any technique, any strategy, any training, any equipment, anything that increases the likelihood of a peaceful outcome, that’s worth everything to us,” Pasquarell said.