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Former FBI Agent Says Officers In Jacksonville Should Have De-escalation Training


Jacksonville’s former FBI chief believes de-escalation training for law enforcement is important in preventing conflict between officers and community members.

Toni Chrabot, recently-retired FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Jacksonville, says when officers know how to de-escalate high-pressure situations, violent incidents are less likely to occur.

Chrabot has provided training services for other FBI agents and the Jacksonville Beach Police Department.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Chrabot explained how these trainings can help especially during traffic stops.

“Both people have to be in control of their own behavior,” Chrabot said. “Traffic stops are absolutely volatile [and] at any point could go bad.”

Chrabot says the recent conflict between Sandra Bland and a Texas police officer is an example of an escalated incident that could have been prevented with this kind of training.

Officials say Bland committed suicide in her Texas jail cell after she was detained following a routine traffic stop that got out of hand. Video of that confrontation has sparked much debate.

“I certainly don’t want to pass judgment on policy or anything like that,” Chrabot said. But she also says in the video it appears the officer escalated the situation by telling Bland to put out her cigarette. “If you can’t control yourself, how do you control the situation?” Chrabot said.

She says officers should use active listening skills, demonstrate empathy, and build report with the people they pull over.

“That is the stair step approach to behavioral change,” Chrabot said.

Chrabot says she believes officers are most concerned with public safety, but because of time constraints, stress, and sometimes listening preferences, they fall into some bad habits.

Listen to the full conversation with Toni Chrabot on Tuesday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.