Enhancing Officers’ Trust-Building and Tactical Skills

As one of the first cities in the country selected for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Violence Reduction Network (VRN), Richmond, CA has faced ongoing challenges related to increasing community trust and public safety. One of the cornerstones of the Richmond Police Department’s (RPD) violence reduction strategy is ensuring officers maximize opportunities during every community interaction to build positive rapport, deescalate conflict, and minimize the use of force.

Richmond Chief Chris Magnus was looking for innovative ways to enhance his officers’ trust-building and tactical skills. The VRN and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) connected the RPD with a series of five, one-day introductory T3™ - Tact, Tactics, and Trust training classes, which are based on the idea that because tact, tactics, and trust are inseparable on the street, they must also be inseparable in training.

Specifically, T3™ instructors teach officers practical, evidence-based skills that they can use to create safer, more positive outcomes during their community interactions, especially in situations where tactical risk is high and trust is low. The training series integrates community policing, officer safety skills, and interpersonal communication skills using realistic, scenario-based exercises and other interactive training techniques. The goal is to create engaging opportunities for officers to learn, practice, and improve essential tactical, communication, and trust-building skills.

The Richmond trainings were attended by over 150 officers from the RPD, as well as from Oakland (CA), and other San Francisco Bay Area agencies. Instructors used a variety of evidence-based methods to build skills in four critical areas of performance called the “PDAT factors,” which refers to perception, decision, action, and trust. Specific topics covered in the Richmond trainings include:

  • Deescalating people in emotional and mental crisis.
  • Effective verbal communication with people being held at gunpoint.
  • Tactical empathy.
  • Dealing with angry bystanders with smartphones.
  • Respectful, safe Terry stops.
  • Non-arrest, trust-building resolution of minor offenses.
  • Trust-building within the police department.
  • Protecting against sudden, close-quarter gun attacks.

In advance of the Richmond classes, the instructor team consulted closely with RPD senior leadership and training staff to ensure that the training was tailored to address relevant department issues and align with relevant laws and policies.

“I think this program is excellent. [It] utilizes an innovative approach to help cops better understand that their safety is closely tied to how they communicate with others in a wide range of situations,” said Chief Magnus.

While the specific content was customized for the RPD, all T3™ training focuses on teaching skills related to Seven Core Principles of Tact, Tactics, and Trust.™

  1. Be Balanced
  2. Be Real
  3. Self-Control
  4. Be Smooth
  5. Be Empathetic
  6. Create Lasting Positive Effects
  7. Never Humiliate

A key lesson learned from the Richmond program is that the training will be most effective when introduced early during initial academy training, and then continually reinforced at strategic points in an officers’ career.

Participants also noted that the course pairs nicely with Blue Courage training; Blue Courage training helps promote the right mindset among officers, while T3™ training operationalizes that mindset through hands-on guidance and practical skills.

For more information about T3™ - Tact, Tactics, and Trust training, contact Dr. Jonathan Wender, jonathan.wender@polis-solutions.com. Dr. Wender is a twenty-year police veteran whose academic work focuses on the dynamics of human interaction.

If you are interested in submitting the work of your organization or jurisdiction for consideration to be featured in a future TTA Today blog post or to obtain information related to a particular topic area, please email us at BJANTTAC@ojp.usdoj.gov.

Points of view or opinions on BJA NTTAC’s TTA Today blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, BJA, or BJA NTTAC.