The University of Wisconsin Police Department will host two training sessions this week as part of a new focus on de-escalating volatile situations without the use of force.
The two sessions will use a model called ICAT (integrating communications assessment and tactics) to help UWPD navigate escalated situations. ICAT focuses on scenarios where subjects are behaving erratically but don’t have a firearm.
The UWPD began these training sessions with its first group on Monday and Tuesday last week with a handful of its 63 sworn officers.
“The first day was Monday and that was mainly classroom stuff,” UWPD Director of Communications Marc Lovicott told Madison365. “The second day was all scenario, hands on training using true-to-life things. Groups two and three are next week and by next week we should have everyone trained in this ICAT model.”
ICAT uses four areas of focus to refine officers’ training: Patrol officer response, non-firearms incidents, using crisis recognition/intervention tactics and officer safety/wellness.
Lovicott says that UWPD officers encounter a large number of people who are experiencing mental health difficulties or students who have a history of mental health sufferings that are away from home for the very first time.
“This isn’t really new for our officers. This is a huge part of what our officers already do in terms of slowing down and diffusing situations,” Lovicott said. “But being able to spend entire days talking about that is good. They’ve gained knowledge on how to use this in the real world, especially dealing with someone with mental health issues. Trying to empathize and figuring out how we can deal with that person rather than using handcuffs.”
UWPD often respond to the UW hospital area and are put in the position of dealing with patients who are being combative and need help. Lovicott said UWPD is one of the only forces in the state who is training in ICAT currently, largely because of the wide variety of individuals UWPD encounters.
ICAT training was designed by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in 2016. PERF then assembled a working group of over 60 law enforcement officials to develop the training. PERF tested it out using a half dozen pilot program training sessions across the United States.
“You look at our direct audience. It’s college students who are away from home and going through struggles on their own for the first time,” Lovicott said. “We see this (training) as a real asset.”
The second training group session will run on today and tomorrow, followed by the third and final training group on Thursday and Friday.