Phoenix police training to focus on mental health and de-escalation

Feb 21, 2019, 4:40 AM

(YouTube Screenshot)...

(YouTube Screenshot)

(YouTube Screenshot)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department is trying out some new ideas for training this year in an effort to better prepare officers and recruits for work in the field.

“What we’re doing a little bit differently with the Phoenix Police Department this year is we’re focusing more on hands-on training, more grappling,” Commander Jennifer LaRoque told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

The department has faced criticism regarding its involvement in 44 shootings last year, a record high number.

Officers are also being trained on active shooter intervention and implicit bias, LaRoque said.

“This is the first time that we’ve actually done squad-based training and focus more on current trends,” she said.

The department also redesigned training for recruits with this new mindset.

“In the past years, we’ve always done more of a militant-style academy, and this year we’re focusing more on placing pressure and stress more when they’re doing proficiency skills, such as defensive tactics or they’re taking someone into custody or they’re conducting some sort of firearms training, and they’re able to identify targets better,” she said.

LaRoque said this year there will be six basic training classes with 50 recruits each, four mixed classes and two Department of Public Safety classes.

The first Phoenix class began last week, and the next will start in April.

“This year we’re going to focus more on communication, critical thinking and decision-making with de-escalation component to include mental health training scenarios,” LaRoque said.

She said the department will be working with a Mesa doctor who will evaluate how recruits balance the “emotional side” of the brain with the “cognitive side” to help train them in decision-making.

She said they will compare recruits’ brains to those of professional athletes in an effort to train them to work at “peak performance,” something that no other police department nationwide is doing.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Getty Images Photos)...

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs meets with Mayorkas in DC to discuss border security

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs met with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to express what she wants to see at the southern border in D.C. on Wednesday.

1 hour ago

a "for sale" sign displayed outside of a home...

Brandon Gray

Maricopa County partners with 2 West Valley cities for affordable housing projects

Maricopa County announced Thursday it is partnering with two West Valley cities to fund projects that will provide affordable housing solutions. 

1 hour ago

(ADOT photos)...

I-10 in West Valley, State Route 143 in Phoenix among weekend freeway closures

Drivers in the West Valley can expect road closures for improvement projects this weekend on eastbound Interstate 10, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. 

2 hours ago


Weekend guide: Here are the biggest events around metro Phoenix for Sept. 29-Oct. 1

There are plenty of things to do around the Valley this weekend, such as attending the Arizona State Fair, a Diamondbacks game or a Netflix comedy show taping.

2 hours ago

Photo of scales and gavel....

Arizona man sentenced to 11 years in prison on drug distribution, gun crimes

An Arizona man was sentenced to prison for drug distribution and gun crimes, according to the Justice Department. 

10 hours ago

The Grand Canyon National Park entrance is blocked off, in Tusayan, Ariz., Oct. 8, 2013, because of...

Arizona among states to pay to keep national parks open if shutdown occurs

Arizona and Utah will keep the iconic national parks in those states open if a shutdown of the federal government were to occur.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

Phoenix police training to focus on mental health and de-escalation