PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a shoot out — though not a real one — between a gunman and police. It’s a training exercise in which a police recruit confronts a shooter. The purpose is to try and diffuse the situation, avoiding bloodshed.

“Everyone–the actor, the citizen, they’re not injured, they’re not hurt. The police officer, we make it home, we’re not hurt,” explained John Lubawski with the Pittsburgh Police Training Academy.

It’s called de-escalation. In light of the recent fatal and highly-publicized encounters between police and citizens, departments across the country are teaching it, trying to avoid deadly outcomes.

At the Pittsburgh Police Training Academy — recruits learn to prevent potentially volatile encounters from turning into a violent confrontations.

Fake Suspect: I stopped at that stop sign.
Trainer: Could I see you licence and registration
Fake Suspect: I don’t think I want to.

In one example, the driver does not respond to the recruit’s efforts to talk him down from an agitated state.

“So maybe it’s best now, and we teach this technique, just disengage. What’s the rush to get into that car? Is there an immediate reason to get into that car? In most case no there’s not,” said trainer Derek Kuntz.

Instead of forcing the situation, de-escalation teaches three major tools to diffuse the situation and bring about a non-violent resolution: Time, distance and cover.

Trainer: Who controls time ?
Recruit: I do.
Trainer:  You do. You control the tempo. You control the time. When you rush into things that’s when people get hurt. That’s how we get hurt that’s how other people get hurt. Just keep that distance — keep that time — get back up and formulate a plan and go there from.

They’re dealing with situations of life and death. Officers dealing with adrenaline, fear and high-emotion. This de-escalation training gives everyone the best chance to walk away safe.

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