Pasquotank Co. sheriff explains how de-escalation training will help deputies, community after county approval

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Posted at 7:09 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 22:13:30-04

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office is looking to make sure their deputies know how to handle an intense situation with minimal conflict. It's all part of a concept known as de-escalation training.

County commissioners approved the training Monday night.

"In law enforcement, law enforcement has changed in the 16 years that I’ve been in,” Sheriff Tommy Wooten told News 3. “It’s changed dramatically"

Sheriff Wooten said that he believes the training will help bring positivity between his agency and the community, especially after the death of Andrew Brown Jr.
“It’s not about gun-blazing and busting indoors like a lot of things you might see on TV,” Wooten said. “For law enforcement, to me, the pendulum has swung more to the service side of it. We’re already expected to protect people, and we are going to do what we have to protect a community.”

The company Blue to Gold will be in charge of the training. It will use several techniques as they work with Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies.

Training will cost $9,000 for three to four days of classes.

The sheriff said reactions from the community have also poured in.

“We haven’t had any people say they were upset about it. We’ve had several people that are excited for this initiative,” Wooten explained. “We have some people that are optimistic and are kind of, ‘I’m not sure about those' and, 'What's it going to entail?’"

You may remember weeks of protesters on the streets of Elizabeth City earlier this year after Brown's death. Sheriff Wooten is hoping this program will help heal some of the wounds in the community.

He added there may be the opportunity to continue this training either each year or every other year.

“Because as law enforcement evolves over time,” Wooten said, “everybody can see it changing rapidly. It’s about serving people, what do you need to do."

Sheriff Wooten said the $9,000 would also include training for "Duty to Intervene" courses, which would train the deputy on how to intervene if they believe their fellow deputy is doing something they believe is inappropriate.