Law enforcement agencies from across Southwest Florida went back to school Monday - for some special training to help them de-escalate tense situations. The "Tact, Tactics and Trust" training - or T3 - shows officers how to use their communication skills to minimize conflict, which can make it less likely to use force. The training included live scenarios, in which attendees were expected to "talk down" a potentially violent "suspect."
"We do a lot of 'use-of-force' training, but we don't get much training diffusing situations from escalating," said Lt. Jason Fields of the Fort Myers Police Department, who took part in the training.
Fields said learning to talk to people in a crisis situation is an important tool in handling it safely.
"To look at a situation through different eyes, and just be a little empathetic," he said. "But not disregarding officer safety. That is paramount for us."
Trainer Don Gulla said that relating to the people they protect is especially important for school resource officers, and that some school shootings have been prevented because of the trust built between students and the officers.
"In almost every case where there's been a school shooting, someone knew what was happening," Gulla said. "And it takes that one student that trusts someone to make that call."
The training took place in a classroom at Reed Hall on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University while students were on spring break. Officers from seven different agencies took part, including deputies from Lee and Hendry counties, as well as police from Bradenton, North Port, Naples, Fort Myers and FGCU.