OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Police work continues to evolve across the country and it’s no different here in Utah. The Ogden Police Department is spending the week being trained by the RITE Academy which focuses on social, racial and emotional intelligence. How does that improve police work? According to the academy, “Employees with emotional intelligence regulate themselves under stress. They won’t bully others, stereotype people, or compromise their own values by putting others down. Self-regulation, which is part of emotional intelligence, is about staying in control, to help everyone in the agency.”
Body camera footage from May 29 shows a tense encounter between Ogden police officers and a domestic violence suspect. The responding officers kept their cool during a situation that could have ended badly for everyone involved.
At one point, the suspect grabbed an officer’s gun. As they struggled on the ground, the gun fired. Luckily, no one was injured. The other officer tazed the suspect who was taken into custody. In this case, the use of force was justified. However, that’s not always the case.
“If you always do the same things that you’ve always done, you’re going to have the same results,” Lt. Will Farr with the police department told ABC4 during the second day of training with RITE Academy. And while we’ve done very well, we can always do better,” he added.
In recent months, the police department has adopted two new tools to help improve its relationship with the public. SPIDR Tech allows police to get real-time feedback from individuals whom they’ve interacted with out on calls. The Use of Force Dashboard is a website open to the public. Those who visit the website can view monthly use-of-force statistics that break down what type of force was used, what the call came in for, and the race, age and gender of the person involved.
Now, the department is adopting the tools given to them through the RITE Academy’s training.
“You’re dealing with different people on a daily basis and their emotions could trigger your emotions,” Randy Friedman told ABC4. She is the director of training and a co-founder of the academy.
While officers will learn about social and racial intelligence during the training. The focus is on emotional intelligence. “Understanding what makes us tick,” Friedman explained. “Emotional intelligence is understanding what my emotions are. If I understand what my emotions are, I’ll be a better servant for you, the public.”
“What if my personal life is falling apart? If I don’t know how to deal with that, I’m going to bring it into work and if I bring it to work inside the agency, I’m probably going to bring it into the community as well,” she stated.
What does learning about different emotions do to improve police work. According to the academy, it helps first responders develop the following skills:
- Master communication skills for public service leadership
- Make better decisions to help de-escalate all situations
- Achieve greater self-awareness, self-worth, and self-value
- Build positive relationships inside and outside the agency
- Improve officer wellness by learning how to decrease stress
- Enhanced empathy, and effective conflict resolution
- Learn how to Gray Rock and Pivot from distractors
“Most are taught in the (police) academy, ‘You’re don’t have emotions. Turn them off.’ Friedman stated. “The fact of the matter is we’re human. Show your human side. The community wants to see your human.”
The academy has trained more than 1,000 agencies since its conception in 2015. One of those agencies was a sheriff’s department in Florida. According to the academy, that agency saw the use of force drop by 60 percent after adopting the program.
“The more that we’re right with ourselves, the more that we’re right in our personal lives, and right with all those different things we see, the better we can be at addressing the community’s concerns and serving the community,” Lt. Farr stated.