Police from around Ohio train in Middletown on handling emotions, racial intelligence

Hamilton police Officer Ryan Beckelhymer, top left asks RITE co-founder Linda Webb a question during a train the trainers session in Middletown to teach officers how to keep their emotions in check. ED RICHTER/STAFF
Caption
Hamilton police Officer Ryan Beckelhymer, top left asks RITE co-founder Linda Webb a question during a train the trainers session in Middletown to teach officers how to keep their emotions in check. ED RICHTER/STAFF

As demands continue for police accountability, Middletown police hosted a two-day workshop for departments on keeping emotions in check as officers respond to calls.

For the second time in four years, Middletown police hosted a “train the trainers” session with Racial Intelligence Training & Engagement.

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On Monday and Tuesday, officers representing 17 departments from around the state participated in the RITE session held at The Windamere in downtown Middletown.

Linda Webb and Randy Friedman are co-creators of RITE and have trained more than 500 police agencies across the nation since founding their company in 2015.

“We want officers to recognize what their emotions are before they get out of their car and engage with the public,” Webb said. “If I get out of a patrol car and I’m mad or I’m angry, that engagement with a public member is not going to be to be good. I always say that’s a recipe for disaster.”

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She said the goal is to feel, connect and value each time an officer engages with the public. Webb said officers have to learn that they are allowed to have emotions but those emotions have to be in check. She said they need to pause to determine other options to get them back to a level of confidence.

The formula they taught was that emotional intelligence combined with social intelligence unlocks an officer’s racial intelligence.

If an officer is already angry getting out of the patrol car, the chances increase that the incident could be a career-ender and have fatal consequences.

She said that officers need to create value get to know the people in the community. Webb said officers need to take some time and learn more about their situations of members of the public.

In addition, an officer’s partner needs to switch out an officer when that person is out of control emotionally and intervene in a situation.

Webb said emotional intelligence is the biggest component that is not taught to officers in the training academies.

“We were taught in prior policing, you were taught in the police academy that you had no emotions. You were taught to be stone cold,” Webb said. “Well I’m saying it’s OK to have emotions as a police officer. You have those emotions and you need to recognize those emotions because if you don’t get those emotions in check and you’re out of control, you can do a lot of damage on the street.”

During her 35-year career as a Florida law enforcement officer and detective, Webb said she had the right to use deadly force 11 times, including an incidents involving a knife to her throat and a gun to her head. However, each of those times, she was able to deescalate the situation.

Webb said in the past year some agencies implementing the program reported a 60% reduction in police complaints and 65% reduction in use-of-force complaints. In addition, none of those departments ihave reported an escalation of force or unnecessary use of force.

Middletown police Chief David Birk said he contacted Webb and Friedman after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests locally and nationwide to host another racial intelligence workshop.

While Middletown police hosted the RITE training in 2016, it was not implemented by the department.

“This training will be part of the required annual training for Middletown police,” Birk said.