Christiansburg Police receive new training in communication, high pressure situations

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Across the country, police are working to build better relationships with their communities. In Christiansburg, officers were getting a new kind of training they haven't seen before.

A dozen officers were in a classroom Wednesday and Thursday, but they weren't just sitting down taking notes. Thanks to new video software, they were putting themselves in real life situations and trying to solve problems with words.

Christiansburg Police said they have a good relationship with their community, but it's always a work in progress. They would like to see a real partnership between officers and the general public.

Major Dalton Reid explained, "Whether they pass an officer or whether they're being stopped by an officer on the street, [I hope] that they know that we're all in one boat and they we're going to work together."

And that can start with how officers speak with people when on a call.

Greg Seidel, the Director of Training and Policy for Thomas and Means Law Firm explained, "Someone who is having trouble on the firing range, we have very specific corrective action for them to hit the mark, and this is corrective action for them to hit the mark in communication."

This week officers got to experience simulations and train on how to handle them from the North Carolina law firm representative.

"In the past there have been no organized practice field where some officer could go into a room and role play against a video stimulus," Seidel said.

Then the officers heard an optional way police could respond.

Major Reid said, "You can read and you can have someone tell you how to do things but when you can actually practice it, you're going to actually get more out of it."

And the public will be getting more out of this training too.

"I think what they'll see from that is maybe officers who are a little more willing to take time as needed to hear a full story before asking questions," Seidel explained.

He went onto say, "When an officer is conscious of his own emotions and his own communication, he can then become more aware and really listen, actively listen, to the other."

Major Dalton added, "By being able to effectively communicate, you hopefully deescalate a situation and then you don't have to use the other tools on your belt, and that's the best outcome for everyone involved."

The twelve officers were all command staff, supervisors and general leaders in the departments.

They'll be passing what they learn to the other members of the 58-sworn officer department. It will also be taught to anyone having contact with the public, like the receptionists in the front door.