The Milton Police Department has been awarded a $119,323 grant to offer officers simulated scenarios to bolster their de-escalation and defensive tactics knowledge, skillset and philosophy.
The department is one of over 60 agencies statewide to receive these first-ever grants from the State of Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The funding, which must be used for use of force or de-escalation training, is available through June 30, 2022.
Milton plans to use its funding for realistic scenario-based training that furthers the department’s priority of de-escalation training and defensive tactics training that furthers the Department’s priority of de-escalation and using the least amount of force possible.
“The MPD is always looking for innovative means by which to train our officers for best practices,” Chief Rich Austin said. “We saw this as an opportunity to train de-escalation on a deeper level.”
Milton officers already have classroom and/or online training annually. This grant will provide a more hands-on approach, by helping pay for police-specific virtual reality equipment and/or a computerized firearms simulator. These set-ups would give officers’ instantaneous feedback to be complimented by instructor coaching to help officers improve their skills and performance.
The advanced defensive tactics training, the police department said, will teach officers more techniques to restrain a person when necessary that are less likely to cause injury to that person or the responding officer.
In early 2020, the Milton Police Department instituted changes to its guidelines on how and when officers may use force in the line of duty. This new policy — modeled after one produced by the Camden County New Jersey Police Department in conjunction with New York University School of Law’s Policing Project — emphasizes that officers must do everything possible to respect and preserve the sanctity of life and avoid unnecessary uses of force.
That same year, Milton police had zero excess force complaints. Amid heightened public scrutiny of policing nationwide following George Floyd’s death, Milton Police was outspoken on the department’s policies and training and created a special webpage at www.cityofmiltonga.us/PolicePolicy.
This grant funding will further support this strategy of making sure that Milton officers have the needed hands-on training to effectively and, to whatever extent possible, safely handle challenging incidents.
“Our goal is always to use the minimal force necessary,” Austin said. “This training will help us continue to do just that.”