Grant allows FHSU to continue de-escalation training for law enforcement

By Randy Gonzales
Special to the Hays Daily News

Fort Hays State University police officer Jonathan Rupp said his de-escalation training helps him in the line of duty.

Rupp is one of four FHSU police department personnel to have already received training offered by the Regional De-Escalation Training Center established at FHSU in August 2020. He was on hand Tuesday afternoon in the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success for an on-campus ceremony formally accepting a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Dr. Tamara Lynn, chair and associate professor of Criminal Justice, discusses a $1.25 million grant awarded to FHSU in an on-campus ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

Rupp, with the FHSU police department since 2015, said his de-escalation training is another tool in the tool box. He went through three days of training last November.

“There’s lots of times I’m out there dealing with something, (and) after the incident is resolved I’m thinking about it – ‘Oh, my gosh, I just used de-escalation,’ ” said Rupp, now a certified instructor. “It’s kind of become seamless. You don’t realize you’re doing it until after the incident is over.”

Dr. Tamara Lynn, chair and associate professor of Criminal Justice, said the training is not something that will be unfamiliar to participants.

“It’s not something entirely new, that officers have not used before,” Lynn said. “Our training includes rapid personality identification, know how to use specific tactics based on personality. Research shows that this training is very powerful for de-escalating people.”

There were more than two dozen partners of the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) in attendance at Tuesday’s event.

“This is truly about forging partnerships,” FHSU police chief Ed Howell said.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran was instrumental in FHSU receiving the grant.

“It’s only right that we continue to find ways to improve and to increase the role that educational opportunity presents itself to students, and in the process doing so creates jobs and opportunities for Kansans, but also makes Kansas a safer place,” Moran said. “Helps our law enforcement officials have greater opportunities to do their jobs, and do their jobs well.”

The center at Fort Hays, with Lynn and Howell as co-directors, is one of six that are part of a national network of regional centers under the direction of the NDTC. Lynn said the plan is to train 2,000 officers in the region over the next 18 months. The grant makes it possible for officers from around the area to receive training at no cost.

“It’s something that’s critically needed across our nation today,” FHSU President Tisa Mason said. “It is why we are especially pleased with the efforts of so many people who are responsible for bringing both the training and funding to Fort Hays State University.”