The Charger Blog

University Named Regional De-Escalation Training Center for Law Enforcement Professionals

Through its Center for Advanced Policing, the University of New Haven is helping to provide critical de-escalation training for local law enforcement, helping them make a difference in their communities while promoting research and best practices.

May 25, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The John and Leona Gehring Hall, Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science
The University of New Haven’s main campus in West Haven, Conn.

As an educator and a chief of police, Ronnell Higgins, M.A. is committed to advancing and enhancing police training. In particular, he strongly believes in the importance of de-escalation training and its potential to make a meaningful difference across police departments and communities.

A practitioner in residence of criminal justice at the University as well as chief of police and director of public safety at Yale University, Prof. Higgins believes de-escalation should be an integral part of the training curriculum offered by police departments. He is part of a new critical collaboration that is bringing together the University of New Haven, as well as the New Haven and Yale University Police Departments. Through its Center for Advanced Policing, the University of New Haven has been named a regional training center for de-escalation training.

“I wanted to do more, and I wanted to advance this in the region,” said Prof. Higgins. “We’ve witnessed how de-escalation training can create better outcomes. Our officers have done this for a number of years, and we’re already seeing better outcomes. We hope to advance de-escalation and make it a part of police DNA.”

‘A positive impact on policing’

Prof. Higgins and the Yale Police Department recently sent two officers – a sergeant and a patrol officer – to Pennsylvania to receive training. The New Haven Police Department also sent two officers, enabling them to learn to become trainers.

The University of New Haven will now be responsible for training sworn police officers in the northeast – and it will be the only location in the area to offer this training – as it was selected to become a National De-Escalation Training Center (NDTC) regional training center. A nonprofit organization, the NDTC serves public sector law enforcement agencies and endeavors to deliver the most advanced training supported by research and best practices.

"The University of New Haven has a long-established reputation as a leader in delivering quality law enforcement training."Patrick Guarnieri, chair and CEO of the National De-Escalation Training Center

Lisa Dadio, M.S., MSW, director for the Center for Advanced Policing at the University, says this effort supports the Center’s mission of providing important training to law enforcement professionals – from recruits to senior-level law enforcement officials.

“We have offered training in areas such as traits, values, and behaviors and their role in policing, leadership training, and regional detective training,” said Prof. Dadio, who also serves as a senior lecturer and assistant dean of the University’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. “While providing training and education to law enforcement throughout the country, the University of New Haven continues to have a far-reaching impact on policing in the northeast.”

‘A strategically important role’

A retired New Haven Police Department lieutenant, Prof. Dadio is excited to help ensure that local law enforcement officers receive the training they need to help them continue to serve their communities to the best of their abilities. Since her retirement from the NHPD more than a decade ago, she has been dedicated to training current and future law enforcement professionals.

“The fact that the University was selected to represent the Northeast Region as the host training center to deliver this much needed de-escalation training speaks volumes about the impact the University has in the law enforcement profession,” she said.

Headquartered at the Wayne State University Police Department in Detroit, the NDTC facilitates research, innovation, and development of best practices in de-escalation training. With an online library featuring hundreds of scholarly articles on de-escalation and similar topics, the NDTC is also in the process of developing a crowd control curriculum and a Hostage Negotiation Division.

The NDTC is working with Congress to acquire funding to offset regional training costs and to support research programs conducted by the regional centers. It is also in the process of developing new, strategically located regional training centers.

“The University of New Haven is well-positioned geographically to provide de-escalation training services to the densely populated Northeast,” said Patrick Guarnieri, chair and CEO of the NDTC. “The University of New Haven has a long-established reputation as a leader in delivering quality law enforcement training. As a regional training center, the University will work in concert with the New Haven Police Department and the Yale University Police Department to provide a strategically important role in fulfilling the NDTC mission.”

Lisa Dadio, M.S., MSW
Lisa Dadio, M.S., MSW, director for the Center for Advanced Policing at the University.
‘A collaboration that enables us to thrive’

Prof. Higgins likens de-escalation training to CPR training, since it has the ability to make a difference in all areas of life – from the workplace to Thanksgiving dinner. He believes this training is important for all professionals who work with individuals who might be struggling, including law enforcement officers, as well as such individuals as front-facing positions in libraries and bus drivers.

“The importance of the work of the University of New Haven, the New Haven Police Department, and the Yale Police Department can’t be understated,” he said. “This is the beginning of a collaboration that enables us to thrive and continue to advance de-escalation training.”