Safety in the news

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WSU Police Dept. spearheads national de-escalation training initiative

A National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) has been established to teach law-enforcement personnel innovative and nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts with the public, and the Wayne State University Police Department has been selected as the center's regional headquarters. Was Wayne State chosen because of Detroit's enduring reputation for crime and violence? Because the city is nearly 80 percent African American? Because of our history of fierce run-ins between civilians and police? None of the above, according to Dr. Patrick Guarnieri, the Florida-based chairman, CEO, and creator of the NDTC program. It was selected because of Wayne State's national reputation as a major urban research university. And because of WSU Police Chief Anthony Holt. "It was originally going to start elsewhere," says Guarnieri, former director of training for the National Intelligence Program at the University of South Florida. "But as we were forming it and weighing our options, Wayne State provided the most amenable campus for what we wanted to do, to set up regional centers across the United States and have the headquarters co-located with a university. "Chief Holt gets the credit for this," says Guarnieri. "Oh, God, what a great human being. It's because of his perspective on progressive and innovative policing and [WSU President M.] Roy Wilson's perspective on community police relations. "This is not a 'one-size-fits-all' training," says Holt, a stalwart on WSU's force for more than four decades. "The goal is to reduce the number of incidents where force comes into play. That horrible incident in Minneapolis could possibly change the whole scope of the culture of law enforcement. You've got to look deep within your organization. When you talk about community policing, now you've got to take a deep dive into it."
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Wayne State University’s Police Chief on the Case for De-escalation

No one likes the police right now,” Wayne State University police Chief Anthony Holt concedes. “It’s a natural reaction. Black or white, they just don’t like us now.” For a man who has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement at WSU, the last 12 as chief, that reality has got to bite, especially since under Holt’s leadership, Wayne State has been ranked as one of the safest campuses in America by online researchers at bestcolleges.com. And 85 percent of the duties his officers perform take place just off campus in the surrounding Midtown district. His style is both involved and innovative. He originated CompStat, a bimonthly meeting at Wayne State of law enforcement representatives from across southeast Michigan to compare statistics and best practices. And in May, the department established the headquarters of the National De-escalation Training Center on the Wayne State campus. The intensive program is designed to use personality assessment to take police training to the next level.
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Wayne State establishes center for de-escalation training in law enforcement

Several law enforcement departments are in talks with the Wayne State University Police Department following its establishment as the regional headquarters for the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC). Located on the university’s campus, the NDTC is a nonprofit entity aimed at teaching law enforcement professionals new techniques for addressing and resolving situations in a nonconfrontational and nonviolent manner. “The goal is to reduce the number of instances where force comes into play. We had our first officers run through the program in March and April,” said Wayne State University Police Chief Anthony Holt. “We were ahead of the game since everyone started calling for more programs like this after the George Floyd incident in Minnesota, but it did encourage us to reach out to other departments to let them know this program is being offered. It’s a two-day training program. We do classroom work the first day and run through scenarios the second day. We can run shoot/don’t shoot training, hypothetical scenarios and face-to-face tests,” said Holt. “You start with de-escalation, you don’t walk up loud and in their face and then de-escalate, you need to start low and make sure the person you’re confronting knows you’re not out to get them — that you’re doing a job, you’re not looking to arrest them no matter what.”
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Wayne State University to announce plans for fall semester amid pandemic

Wayne State University is set to announce Wednesday exact plans for the fall semester. The university is one of the last such schools to announce return plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. “I said from the very beginning that we weren’t going to make any definitive decisions until as late as possible, based on the science and based on the public health at the time,” said President M. Roy Wilson. We do know a couple of the university’s plans already. For one, masks will be nonnegotiable. “That’s going to be mandatory for us,” said Wilson. “If you’re in a closed environment, in any of our buildings, you’re going to have to a wear a mask, period.” Here’s what else we know: There will be in-person, online and remote classes. Students will have to take a mandatory campus health and safety online course. There will be daily screenings and barcodes giving access to campus. Students living on campus will receive a COVID-19 test. The full plan will be sent via email to students and community members.
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Model D, 7/14 Amid calls to defund police, Detroit leaders weigh in on solutions and alternatives

For the Wayne State University Police Department, which report more incidents off-campus than on-campus, everyone must be on board with safety changes in the department, says Police Chief Anthony Holt. The university reported in May that the department was establishing a headquarters for a national de-escalation training center. According to the university, a nonprofit corporation status was filed with the state of Michigan. The training, Holt says, involves understanding someone’s mental health and deciding how to address that person. De-escalation, Holt says, is useful when conducting a traffic stop. While the person is not comfortable with a police officer stopping them, and may express their discomfort, Holt says one of the best practices is for the officer to calmly explain the stop. Holt says the plan for the center has been in motion for the last few years. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the department halted face-to-face training. Holt says a few of the officers began training shortly before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s shelter-in-place order. Virtual training began the week of June 20 with plans of face-to-face training by the end of 2020. Holt says de-escalation training is not a “one size fits all” tactic, as each person police come in contact with is different. But the goal of the training center, he says, is to further prepare officers on how to handle situations individually without immediate excessive use of force. In wake of recent police-involved incidents, Holt says the department receives numerous calls from residents explaining police encounters as far as 10 years ago. Holt doesn’t dismiss the complaints, and instead says he uses those complaints to remind officers how to handle future calls in the city. “I think you have to understand why people are protesting,” he says. “They want change. They want to be part of the change. So when you say you have to show [change], thus is the perfect example when to show it.”
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Wayne State University center to train officers in de-escalation

Wayne State University announced the creation of a National De-escalation Training Center. The headquarters will be on its campus. The Wayne State police department says its officers are already being trained in de-escalation methods. Tony Holt, chief of police for Wayne State University,  says the de-escalation training is different from a one-size-fits-all approach to de-escalation training. “You want to let the person know, now I understand what kind of promise you have, and you can see, individually, what this person is going through, and to help you understand what those next steps are to take,” he says. Holt says officers are trained to break people down into 16 main personality types, each having their own subgroups. Officers are trained to recognize these personality types based on behavior, and can more effectively address the problem. He says it won’t be easy for officers to earn community trust, something he says is understandable since people are rightfully upset about police brutality. “And I think the timing is good because it’s going to cause you to work extra hard to get that buy-in. And this is not an overnight, you’re not going to build trust overnight. The community and the citizens want to see this in action,” says Holt.
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Detroit cop shot in '78 to be honored as a fallen officer 11 years after his death

Scott Larkins will be honored as a fallen police officer 41 years after a mentally ill sniper shot him in the back on the city's east side, leading to decades of health problems that caused his 2008 death. Larkins, a former Detroit cop, is scheduled have his name added to the National Fallen Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., in May, thanks to Wayne State University police officer Chris Powell, who discovered the oversight earlier this year. Powell in 2017 set up a scholarship in the name of his former best friend, Collin Rose, a Wayne State K-9 officer who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 22, 2016. In April, the Officer Collin Rose Memorial Foundation received an application from Jacob Fournier, 18, a graduate of L'Anse Creuse High School-North. In his application essay, Fournier mentioned that his father was a retired Clinton Township police officer, and that his grandfather, Larkins, was a Detroit cop who had been shot on the job in 1978 and died years later from related injuries. After reading the essay, Powell said he checked the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and didn't see Larkins’ name. "I got permission from the family to look into what happened," Powell said. "I started digging into it on my lunch breaks and days off, and things progressed pretty quickly from there." Powell obtained a copy of the autopsy report that ruled Larkins' March 9, 2008, death at age 58 was a duty-related homicide. He then arranged to have Larkins' name added to the National Fallen Officers Memorial. Powell said he hopes to raise enough money to send Larkins' family to the May 13 ceremony on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Larkins' widow, Sharon Larkins, 74, of Harper Woods, said she's "stunned by the whole thing." "I can't believe (Powell) did all that for our family," she said. "We've been through so much over the years."
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Wayne State officer learns in Israel

Wayne State University Chief of Police Anthony Holt wrote an opinion piece about his recent trip to Israel as a member of the Law Enforcement/Federation Security Detroit delegation. Joined by six other delegations in Israel hailing from Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Holt participated in a seven-day training regimen proving to be “one of the most intense and eye-opening immersion activities that I have experienced during my 42-year law enforcement career.” The daily 10-hour training covered a wide swath of topics, including coping with terrorism threats, anti-Semitism as a global terror threat, connection between community and security/emergency forces, terror in the State of Israel from the perspective of a senior commander in the field, Judaism in the diaspora, simulation exercises and numerous other critical points of discussion. “There were numerous lessons learned and other takeaways that emerged from the training sessions. Overall, I developed a deeper understanding of how to employ situational awareness — being aware of our surroundings throughout the day and watchful of any warning signs.”
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Here’s a look behind the scenes at Detroit’s mounted police

You've probably seen them trotting around at all the big events in Detroit, dressed to the nines and directing crowds of people. They are the Detroit mounted police. But, what does an average day look like for a mounted officer? What is required to take care of the horses? Michelle Oliver got a chance to do a ride-along and this is what she learned. Oliver arrived at 8 a.m. and the officers had already done a lot of work. The horses were groomed and waiting in their stables for their officers to get dressed and ready. Speaking to Officer Garnette Steen, he said it takes them about an hour to prep the horses in the morning. Looking nice and polished is important for both the officers and the horses, so the horses are given a hoof treatment to make their hooves look shiny. Seargant Muston then did a roll call and handed out assignments for the day. They like to go where there is a lot of foot traffic. Eastern Market on Saturdays and the Wayne State area is a popular beat. Oliver followed Officers Steen and Murphy for their patrol of Wayne State. Not long after they mounted their horses, Remmy and Andre, people started coming up to ask them if they could pet the horses, something the officers welcomed. "It's a little different. I've never had anyone walk up and pet my squad car, but every time I am walking, somebody will stop [me], and want to pet Andre," said Officer Brandon Murphy. The horses help the police build relationships with the community they are patrolling, something Sergeant Muston finds very important. The Detroit Mounted Police started patrolling the streets in 1893. Sgt. Muston said they had a rocky start, but quickly got their footing and started growing. At their peak, the Detroit mounted unit had about 70 officers. In 2005, however, Sergeant Muston said the department was poorly managed and was shut down after over 100 years on duty. Muston saw the value in the mounted unit and wrote a proposal to bring it back, which they did in 2009. The officers work a typical 8 hour day and will spend about 5 hours on patrol with their horses, with breaks. They all seemed very dedicated to their work and enjoyed talking to people as they walked by. One girl was so enchanted by the horses that she ran off to buy apples to feed them. "Come say 'hi.' Come speak. We don't bite, unprovoked," joked Officer Murphy.