By Andy Sheehan

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the wake of the Antwon Rose shooting, there’s been a legislative push to increase police training, especially in the underpaid, understaffed and overworked police departments in Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs and the Mon Valley.

“We need to have more training and a more standardized training that’s applicable [for] all the police departments all over the commonwealth,” said Senator Jay Costa, who has introduced a bill to fund that training.

More and more, that training is focusing on de-escalation.

At the Pittsburgh Police Training Academy, recruits learn to diffuse potentially violent encounters.

During one training exercise, a recruit performs a traffic stop and encounters an uncooperative driver. In trying to de-escalate the situation, the officer has three tools — time, distance and cover.

The recruit rightly puts distance between herself and the motorist, and in the event that the now-suspect has a weapon, she takes cover behind her police cruiser.

“Exit the vehicle,” she shouts.

Pittsburgh Police training exercise (Photo Credit: KDKA)

Where she makes her mistake is not using time — not waiting for back-up.

Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman J. McDonough says de-escalation training has been around a long time but is being re-emphasized at the county police training academy.

“You’re always trying to slow events down and you’re always trying to not allow events to spiral out of control, so you use time, you use distance,” McDonough said.

McDonough says it’s not always possible to de-escalate a situation, especially with a non-compliant or violent suspect, but in most cases, he says, the techniques achieve the best outcomes.

“That’s always the goal of the police officer, is to end any kind of encounter peacefully,” he said. “The citizen goes on their way and the police officer goes his own way.”

Costa’s legislation includes funding for additional training, specifically requiring de-escalation training as part of an officer’s annual re-certification.