BY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
The Fort Hays State University Department of Criminal Justice and University Police Department signed a final agreement on Aug. 7 to join an expanding network of regional de-escalation training centers that teach law enforcement officers techniques that can help resolve potentially dangerous confrontations.
FHSU will join a national network of regional centers under the direction of the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) at Wayne State University in Michigan. The NDTC has either signed or is in negotiations to establish four regional centers at FHSU and in North Carolina, Florida and Nevada. The NDTC is also considering two additional locations.
This move places FHSU at the forefront of this important law enforcement training initiative, and two criminal justice faculty members were appointed to leadership positions with the NDTC. Dr. Tamara Lynn, department chair and an associate professor, was named president of the NDTC’s Executive Council and is responsible for coordinating all regional training centers. Dr. Morgan Steele, assistant professor, will serve as the research coordinator for the regional training centers.
“This appointment was a surprise and an honor,” Lynn said. “Partnering with the NDTC is necessary to improve relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. While we are fortunate to have positive relationships with area law enforcement agencies in Hays, not all communities do. What better way to be part of the solution than to position FHSU AND myself to positively influence law enforcement officers across the region and the U.S. by training them in advanced de-escalation techniques.”
Lynn and FHSU Police Chief Ed Howell are co-directors of Fort Hays State’s regional training center.
“This de-escalation model expands the police officers’ tool kit to interact with the people they serve and defuse potential situations that otherwise may escalate in the use of force,” Howell said. “This model does not take the place of other proven crisis intervention models. It seamlessly supplements other proven models of intervention and de-escalation.”
Lynn will act as a liaison between the NDTC Board of Directors and the regional centers to provide information, schedule meetings and other tasks to ensure continuity of operations across all regional centers. The NDTC facilitates innovation, research, and development of best practices in law enforcement de-escalation training.
Since June, Lynn has had regular contact with Dr. Patrick Guarnieri and Dr. Benjamin Straight, both members of the NDTC Board of Directors, regarding the NDTC and FHSU’s role as a regional center. Guarnieri is the Florida-based chair, CEO and creator of the NDTC program. She was appointed president of the NDTC Executive Council this fall.
The establishment of a regional training center will allow the Department of Criminal Justice to provide de-escalation training to officers from a multi-state region, including Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. In addition to training law enforcement personnel in the application of de-escalation techniques, Lynn hopes to make a statement and impression on criminal justice majors attending FHSU.
In her role as president of the NDTC Executive Council, Lynn is working to secure funding for the other regional centers and for the NDTC national headquarters. Her current focus is on acquiring enough funding to train faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice and officers from the University Police Department to become trainers in advanced de-escalation techniques.
Lynn is working with FHSU’s Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies (TILT) to secure a project designer to work with the Department of Criminal Justice to develop the online curriculum. Steele will coordinate the research efforts for all the regional training centers to develop uniform learning outcome measures to evaluate the training, as well as organize any additional research conducted through the centers.
Lynn believes that having a de-escalation training center on the FHSU campus will create significant opportunities for Fort Hays State students, who will be able to complete an advanced de-escalation training as a workshop course.
“Including the completion of training on a student’s resume’ will make our students far more attractive to potential employers,” Lynn said. “Anything we can do to challenge and prepare students for the future is important.”
This training has been vetted and certified by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, meaning the de-escalation principles and practices are recognized as the best in the nation. Lynn is excited to begin marketing FHSU as a regional training center and begin promoting the training to law enforcement across the states of Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.