Some police departments are embracing tactics designed to reduce the use of force – and prevent shootings. Rather than rushing in aggressively, officers back off, wait out people in crisis and use words instead of weapons. It’s a technique called de-escalation.

But this training isn’t required in most states. Reveal teams up with APM Reports and finds that most police spend a lot more time training to shoot their guns than learning how to avoid firing them.

APM Reports correspondent Curtis Gilbert visits a Georgia town where police don’t do much de-escalation training – despite what happened two years ago. In 2015, a man who was behaving oddly and singing hymns in a grocery store was killed 35 seconds after a police officer arrived on scene.

And experts believe it’s no coincidence that so many police shootings happen in so little time. They say if police slow down, it could save lives. In our next segment, Gilbert takes us to Minnesota for a look at how this training works and how some officers say it has helped them avoid using force.

Our final segment introduces us to some law enforcement officials who are opposed to requiring de-escalation training, fearing officers might get hurt if they are trained to hesitate before using force.


  • Read: When cops untrained in de-escalation kill unarmed people
  • Explore: APM Reports’ full “Not trained to not kill” investigation


Support for Reveal is provided by The Reva and David Logan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Mary and Steven Swig.

  • True Game (Reveal show theme), “Camerado-Lightning” from n/a (Cut-Off Man Records)


Reveal transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. Please be aware that the official record for Reveal’s radio stories is the audio.

 Section 1 of 5          [00:00:00 – 00:10:04]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


Speaker 1:From the Center for Investigative Reporting in PRX this is Reveal. I’m Al [inaudible 00:00:09]. Downtown San Francisco just before the afternoon commute July 2016. Police confront a thirty five-year old African-American man name Pier Dyson. Dyson is shirtless and stalking a busy street corner. He seems agitated. He tells the cops, he wants to die. They believe he has a gun, so they order him to take his hands out of his pockets, but he won’t.





A tense stand off with an armed man in the hearts of San Francisco, and this cell phone video …


Speaker 1:Crowd gathers; they record the action on their cell phones. In one video you can see four officers with their guns drawn surrounding Dyson. And you can hear the crowd jeering and heckling the cops.


Bystander:He ain’t gonna do nothing to nobody.


Police officer:Everybody get back.


Speaker 1:The interim police chief, Tony Chaplain is at city hall three blocks away.



police chief:


And I took a look up and there are helicopters hovering, and I saw quickly that this thing had the potential to end up in another officer involved shooting.


Speaker 1:Just a few weeks earlier, the man Chaplain replaced as police chief was forced to resign; after officers shot and killed an unarmed African-American woman. This time the cops do something different.


cop male:Move back this is not a safe place to be.


Speaker 1:Police back away from Dyson [inaudible 00:01:31] the area, and bring in the SWAT team. In news video you see police in body armor lying on top of an armored vehicle, rifle trained on Dyson. Instead of bullets police fired bean bag rounds, after another hour they throw stun grenades. When they finally arrest Dyson, almost four hours into the stand off. They find a loaded revolver and extra ammo stuffed in his pocket. Dyson is injured but he later tells a local TV station he’s grateful to be alive.





I was just thankful that I’m still here. You know police did their job far as not killing me.


Speaker 1:Now, all of this played out by design.


Speaker 8:We decided that we’re gonna wait this guy out to save his life. The decision was made I called it and we did it and he’s alive today to tell the story.


Speaker 1:Over the past couple of years San Francisco has trained nearly half it’s police force in tactics meant to deescalate a crisis. Chaplain says one of the most important things they do is slow things down. He says the department reviewed five years of police shootings.


police chief:[inaudible 00:02:42]



Speaker 1:


He brings out a chart showing that; when police open fire, they typically made that decision fast.


police chief:In under a minute forty five percent of the shootings occurred. When you went to a minute, you’re up to ten percent. At two minutes you’re at five percent. Three minutes … literally the graph falls off a cliff with each minute that you stall these things out. If we create this time and distance, as you can see from this graph, we save lives.



Speaker 1:


Chaplain says that backing off won’t work in every case. In fact, just days ago San Francisco police did shoot a man not far from where they confronted Pierre Dyson. They say he was stabbing someone, but police leaders in San Francisco, and some other cities across the country still hope that better police training can better avoid the kinds of high profile shootings that undermine trust in law enforcement in the laws few years. From Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014. To fifteen year old Jordan Edwards last month. Police are being taught to examine their unconscious racial biases and repair relations with the black community. But of all the new training ideas only one is really focused on reducing the use of force, and that’s deescalation. The kind of approach San Francisco is embracing. The problem, most police departments aren’t doing that training, and most states aren’t forcing them too. In this hour, we’re teaming up with a group of investigative reporters from American Public Media. To look at why police spend more time learning to shoot their guns than learning how to avoid shooting them.


[00:04:00]To begin, APM Reports correspondent Curtis Gilbert visits a south Georgia town, where police don’t do much deescalation training. In spite of what happened there in 2015.





Most days, life in Arlington, Georgia is pretty uneventful. It’s a farming community thirty miles from the Alabama border. Arlington has fourteen hundred people and one grocery store, Jerry’s Country Meat. Jerry Scarborough owns this store. He recognizes just about every customer who walks through the door.


Jerry:Everybody knows everybody, knows where to go to church, where the children go to school. You know, what the dog’s name is …





Jerry has a couple of rocking chairs out front. He’s happy to sit down for a few minutes and talk about the day a year and a half ago; when a stranger walked into his store. The man was in his late fifties, and he was acting bizarre.


Jerry:He was quoting the scripture, a good bit, and singing. Only thing he said to me when I said something to him was that I was fired, to turn in my keys. All fourteen of them.


Curtis:So he was acting like he owned the place?


Jerry:Yeah, yeah basically, and he asked the girls up front if they believed in God. And when they said yes he went … ranting and raving at them.


Curtis:Was he threatening them or just saying this crazy scripture thing and trying to fire people?





Physically threatening them no. He was telling them all to get out, then he left and went back to the deli and started on my deli girls back there. Told all them girls they were fired, and then he went back out the door.


911 operator:911 how may I help you?


Curtis:One of Jerry’s employees called to police to report the man.


Jerry’s employe:Something’s mentally wrong with him seriously. Like I said [inaudible 00:05:59] he’s crazy.


Curtis:Sergeant Mickey White was off duty. Driving his squad car home from his job at the Early County Sheriff’s office. There were no other police nearby when the call came over the radio so White took it. By the time he rolled up the man was in his car, trying to get through a construction zone. White’s dash cam video shows what happened next.



Mickey White:


Driver step out of your car, and get your hands where I can see them put them on the hood of the car.


Curtis:Instead the man gets out of his car and walks slowly towards Sergeant White.


Mickey White:Put your hands on the hood of the car now!





Then, just as he had in the grocery store, the man begins to sing. It’s a hymn, great is thy faithfulness.


Mickey White:Put your hands on the car, or I am going to taze you. Put your hands on the car … or I’m going to taze you.


Curtis:The taser doesn’t knock the man to the ground. It just makes him mad, he stumbles back then cocks his fist and charges at Sergeant White. The man lands two glancing blows as the Sergeant draws his gun.



Mickey White:


97-Jay-Central shots fired subject is down.


Curtis:The man is dead, Sergeant Mickey White had been on the scene for a total of thirty five seconds. Last summer a grand jury ruled the shooting was legally justified, but right after he’d killed the man Sergeant White wondered out loud whether he’d done the right thing.


Mickey White:[inaudible 00:07:27]


Curtis:The dash camera recorded this conversation with another officer. About twenty minutes after the shooting.


Male cop :[inaudible 00:07:35] you know what I mean?



Mickey White:


I could have fought it …


Curtis:I could have fought it Sergeant White says.


Male cop :Don’t second guess yourself you did what Mickey had to do.


Curtis:You did what Mickey had to do.


Male cop :You did what Mickey had to do.


Curtis:Mickey White did what he was trained to do. But I’m left wondering whether all could have ended differently, if he’d taken another approach. And I’m not the only one who has that reaction after watching the video.





He’s dead? Over that?


male 2:Oh yeah, shot twice.


Collins:That makes no sense.


Curtis:Derek Collins trains police to resolve situations without violence.


Collins:One of the things that officers have to do is practice patience, if the citizen did not have a weapon on them that shows a danger to themself or to other people. Things don’t have to be resolved within the first thirty seconds. Let him sing all day, let him stand on his car and sing until backup comes.





Even in this post Ferguson world where it seems like every police shooting of an unarmed person gets dissected and analyzed. The stranger’s death didn’t get much attention. It happened far from any major media market. No one demanded to see the video, there were no protest marches. Databases of police shootings maintained by The Guardian, and the Washington Post both misspell his name. It was Derry Touchtone. Derry’s family didn’t file a lawsuit.





You know my first words were, you know, “I don’t care.”


Curtis:Clint Touchtone is Derry’s son. He’s thirty and for most of his life he didn’t have much of a relationship with his father. At the time of the shooting, it’d had been about ten years, since he last saw his dad.


Clint:It’s just … a lot of resentment, at that time coming out. I didn’t really want to deal with it, but that was selfish though. You know and then … the fight the end like hey he’s gone and he ain’t never coming back. That kind of settled down on me then I kind of got like haunted, you know. It took a toll on me it kind of messed with me.





Because there was so little media coverage of Derry Touchtone’s death Clint didn’t even know there was a video of the incident. When I tell him I have a copy on my laptop he asks if he can watch it.


Alright so; you’re sure you want to see this?


Clint:Yeah … I feel like I need to … I feel like it’ll help for real.


Curtis:Okay here it goes.


Clint:[inaudible 00:09:56] Yeah he’s definitely gotten older.





Clint listens in silence as his father is tased and takes a swing at Sergeant White.


 Section 1 of 5          [00:00:00 – 00:10:04]
 Section 2 of 5          [00:10:00 – 00:20:04]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


Narrator:Clint listens in silence as his father is tased and takes a swing at Sergeant White. When the shot is fired, his dad and Sergeant White are off camera.


Clint:That was it, wasn’t it?


Speaker 3:Yep.




Speaker 4:[97 00:10:16] Shots fired-


Clint:Damn, [inaudible 00:10:17]


Speaker 4:Subject is down.


Clint:It’s kind of depressing, you know. That’s the last thing he’s saying, there. Man. I just- you know. Why? It’s just- seems like it was uncalled for. You know? The whole scene, not just, you know, as far as the police, you know, him and all. It’s like, this is mind-boggling, you know. It’s just like, what? Where did that come from, you know? Never in a million years- maybe me, but not him, you know? I’m the one that’s always had the run-ins with the law. You know? But not him. He never had no trouble with the law.





Clint’s father may have been a stranger in Arlington, Georgia, but half an hour up the road, where he grew up in Newton, just about everybody knew Derry Touchstone. Friends say he was popular in high school. His family had money when he was younger, but his father made some bad investments and lost the farm. Marquita Bullard used to own the trailer park where Derry lived until a couple years before he died. She says on Derry’s good days, you couldn’t hope for a better friend.





There was this old black lady that he loved, and she loved him, and they were both having it hard financially before he got his disability started. And he would go catch fish out of the river and bring them to her, and she would cook for both of them. I mean, he was just that kind of person.





But Marquita was also familiar with Derry’s problems. She was one of the counselors at the local mental health clinic. She says he was bipolar, and occasionally suffered from delusions. Derry once told friends he’d punched a whole through a concrete wall. Another time, he said he’d won a baseball scholarship to the University of Georgia. Marquita says, as a mental health worker, she took training on how to deal with people like Derry, and she wishes more police did, too.





I have a lot of respect for most of the law enforcement people. But what I’d like them to recognize is they need training in this area. And not just for mental health reasons, but like, dealing with alcoholics and drug addicts, dealing with domestic violence, dealing with parents that are upset when they have to go in and take their child out of the home. All these are volatile situations and they have the potential to blow up in your face.





The officer who killed Derry had been involved in other volatile situations. After the shooting, Sergeant Micky White had to tell agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about one of them.


Speaker 6:Have you been involved in any other shootings?


Sgt. White:Yes.


Speaker 6:And-


Sgt. White:September 26, 2009. Baker County.


Narrator:The [inaudible 00:12:50] family was having another squabble. [inaudible 00:12:54] is 62 and he’s lived in a trailer at the end of a muddy dirt path for most of his life. He’s got a thick south Georgia accent, and he can talk pretty fast.



Speaker 8:


Arguments be made sometimes, we don’t agree sometimes.


Narrator:He says, “Argument be made sometimes. We don’t agree sometimes.” He’s talking about his brother Terry. Terry used to live next door, and he used to get to arguing with other members of the family.


Speaker 8:He’d get out of hand sometimes. We just call the police. Police come in, settle him down, he’d go back to the house.


Narrator:“He’d get out of hand sometimes, and they’d call the police. Police would come in, settle him down. He’d go home to his house.”



Speaker 8:


Oh, it’s just a family thing, that’s all.


Narrator:“Just a family thing. That’s all.”


But that night in 2009, it wasn’t the usual officer who responded. It was Mickey White. He’d taken a job with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office earlier that year. White tried to arrest Terry, but he told the investigators Terry wouldn’t cooperate.


Sgt. White:I sprayed him with pepper spray. He wiped it out of his face. I hit him with the butt of the baton in the legs. He came toward me. I tried to handcuff him, he throws the handcuffs across. I push him to the ground, he does push-ups with me on his back. He gets out up from under me somewhere during the thing. He says, “Oh, you want to fight?” He comes and jumps on my back and I stick the pistol under my arm and shoot.



Terry :


I said, “Man, I don’t believe he shot me, man.”


Narrator:Terry [inaudible 00:14:18] survived, but he still has a scar on his chest from the bullet wound.


Terry :I didn’t even feel it at first. I just went down. I just went down and … But you know what? I feeled it when I woke up in the hospital. I feel it then.





Terry eventually pleaded guilty to obstructing an officer. An investigation cleared Mickey White of any wrongdoing in the shooting. He wouldn’t talk to me for this story.


Mickey White has been a cop for 15 years. In that time, he’s shot two unarmed people. He’s never taken a course in de-escalation. But he has taken more than 600 hours of training in other subjects. In fact, on the day Sergeant White killed Derry Touchstone, White had just attended a five-hour training session. And it wasn’t just any training. It was called “Firearms Re-qualification and Use of Deadly Force.” He spent part of the morning doing target practice on the shooting range and the other part learning when he could legally open fire on someone.



Captain Will:


Describe it? Well, I do it in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.


Narrator:Captain Will [inaudible 00:15:26] taught the deadly force class at the Early County Sheriff’s Office that day. He’s been doing it since 2010.


Captain Will:The training on deadly force is focused on the code sections, basically. So it’s coming right out of the law- out of the code book is where we get that training from.





Have there been any significant changes to like the kinds of topics you’re covering with officers?


Captain Will:There have not been any changes in the law, so our training wouldn’t have changed as far as what’s required, when you’re authorized to use deadly force.


Narrator:When police use deadly force, the law is generally on their side. If an officer reasonably believes there’s a threat to his safety or someone else’s, then he’s allowed to shoot. [inaudible 00:16:01] didn’t spend any time teaching officers how to resolve a situation without firing their weapon.


[00:16:00]Mickey White’s training history is pretty typical. We looked at training records in other states that, like Georgia, haven’t required police departments to train officers in de-escalation. Those records show officers usually don’t get that kind of training. Just like Mickey White. We reviewed training records from every law enforcement officer in the state of Georgia. It’s remarkable how little of their training is devoted to de-escalation. It accounted for about one percent of all the training hours over the last five years.


[00:16:30]Early County, where Mickey White works, did considerably less than that. I went to see the Early County sheriff to find out why.


William Price:In Georgia [inaudible 00:16:53].


Narrator:It was okay.


William Price has held this office since 2012. He was the first black sheriff ever elected here.



William Price:


It was very big for me.


Narrator:Talk about it.


William Price:Well, it was basically said it was impossible here.


Narrator:Price has a handmade placard on his desk. It says, “Back the blue.” I saw similar signs around town.


William Price:You know, all lives matter. No matter what color they is.


Narrator:Sheriff Price describes Mickey White as a good old country boy and a great employee.


William Price:There’s Mickey White, all I could tell you. It’s just a good officer.


Narrator:He isn’t interested in second guessing the shooting of Derry Touchstone or how Sergeant White was trained.


William Price:But you can “What if?” That situation from now to forever. A lot of folks don’t realize we have two [inaudible 00:17:34], people sit around a table and judge us all day. You know. It was justified shooting. That’s just basically it. So it has nothing to do with his training. He’s well trained.





But, you know, there is this whole line of training that, you know, slow down the action, give yourself some space, try to give yourself some more time, don’t try to resolve the situation as quickly. Do you think that an approach like that might have led to an outcome where that guy isn’t dead?



William Price:


Well see, that’s still my point. In certain situations, yeah, you may can go an approach in certain situations a certain way. But in that situation, boom, bam, it happened.


Narrator:I’d just like to pause there for a moment. The sheriff says de-escalation training wouldn’t work because the situation unfolded so quickly. But one of the key things officers learn in de-escalation training is to slow things down. So out of 600 hours of training, why didn’t Sergeant White spend even one of them learning about ways to avoid shooting people? Sheriff Price questions the value of formal de-escalation training. He sees that as a skill that simply comes with experience.



William Price:


The first five years of my law enforcement career, I about had to fight everybody to put them in the car to arrest them. The next five years, it was a lot easier talking to get in it. From my experience, over twenty-some years of experience, on-the-job training is the best you can get. Can’t nobody teach you how to de-escalate nobody other than the streets itself. You learn quickly.





I think that’s a whole bunch of BS.


Narrator:Police de-escalation trainer Derrick Collins says the skills he teaches don’t come naturally to every cop.


Derrick:And the reason why is this: everybody is not as emotionally intelligent as other people.





Last year, Derrick’s organization contacted more than 150 law enforcement agencies in Georgia to offer them de-escalation training. Only two police departments signed up.


Derrick:We should have had at least 100 times more officers in this training, and no one sought us out. The people we got into training, we all sought them out. And it’s a shame.


Narrator:The whole experience left Derrick feeling cynical, especially when he sees all the other training police are doing.





Let me go to


Narrator:He pulls up an online calendar where police trainers advertise


 Section 2 of 5          [00:10:00 – 00:20:04]
 Section 3 of 5          [00:20:00 – 00:30:04]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


Speaker You got.-


Curtis Gilbert:He pulls up an online calendar where police trainers advertise their classes.


Speaker 1:We saw one de-escalation training, right?


Speaker 3:Yeah and there’s another mayor.


Speaker 1:Okay. That’s two. So let’s keep on scrolling down.



Curtis Gilbert:


You’ve got emerging lawn freshmen legal trends, Internet tools for criminal investigators, hands-on electrical fire, investigating office-involved shootings, statement analysis, career protection resiliency, criminal patrol drug interdiction.


Speaker 1:Oh, and that’s me. So we saw three so far, out of, I don’t know, maybe a 100, 150, 200. With all these shootings that has happened, you would think this board would be filled with de-escalation trainings, but it’s not. (Music)


Curtis Gilbert:Derek says, “If police chiefs aren’t willing to make de-escalation training a priority, someone is going to have to make them do it.” And in Georgia, someone now has.


[00:21:00]In December of 2016, the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council voted to require every officer in the state to take at least one hour of de-escalation training every year. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s a lot more than most Georgia Police Departments have been doing. (Music)


Speaker 1:That’s Curtis Gilbert, a correspondent with APM Reports, an investigative journalism group based at American Public Media. After the break, Curtis takes us to Minneapolis where we meet cops who are changing their approach to people like [Derek Tutson 00:21:36].



Speaker 3:


I just was very honest with them and let ’em know, ” I thought that his behavior appeared paranoid.” And he, basically, started crying. That’s in a minute on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.


Tru Leevy Chan:Hi Listeners, [Tru Leevey Chan 00:21:53] here, Reveal’s Digital Editor. Here at Reveal, we are always coming up with new ways to experience our journalism and we need help from listeners like you. We want you to become a Reveal insider. You can be the first to learn about our experiments and test them out. In fact, we have a big one coming down the pipe in just a few weeks and we wanna hear what you think about it. As a thank you for participating, you’ll get an exclusive piece of Reveal swag. So head on over to to sign up. You’ll be helping us make our stories better. Again, that’s



Al Letson:


From the center for investigative reporting in PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. Thirty-five seconds. That’s how long it took between the time Sergeant Mickey White pulled up in his squad car and the moment he shot and killed Derry Touchstone in rural Georgia.


In Ferguson, Missouri, the shots that killed Michael Brown were fired less than two minutes after the police arrived. [crosstalk 00:23:01]


Speaker 6:Took just 90 seconds.


Speaker 7:From 90 seconds later, Brown was dead.[crosstalk 00:23:06]


Speaker 8:Reports the news for later. [crosstalk 00:23:07]



Al Letson:


For Philando Castile in Minnesota, it was just over a minute.


Speaker 6:Unfolded in a one-minute traffic stop in Falcon Heights. [crosstalk 00:23:13]


Al Letson:For twelve year old Tamir Rice, playing with a pellet gun in a park in Cleveland, it was less than two seconds between the time police rolled up on the scene and opened fire.


Speaker 6:They drove up and he was killed, it was about one and a half seconds. It happened in a blink of an eye. [crosstalk 00:23:27]


Al Letson:It all adds up to four people dead in under four minutes. Experts believe it’s no coincidence that so many police shootings happen in so little time. They say, “If police slowed down, it could save lives.”


[00:30:00]Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at one way police departments are training officers to take their time through something called de-escalation.


Curtis Gilbert and his colleagues at APM reports, “Found most police departments spend hardly any time training in de-escalation, even though they spend a lot of time doing various other trainings.


For the next part of our story, Curtis takes us to Minnesota to see how this training actually works.


Paul Monteen:How are you doing this morning?


Speaker 9:We’re excited.


Paul Monteen:Alright. I like that. Excited.


Curtis Gilbert:This training session was held in a nondescript government building surrounded by farm land on the rural [trenches 00:24:21] of the Minneapolis suburbs. More than 40 people attended, including both cops and county social workers. This eight-hour course focuses on how to resolve a mental health crisis without resorting to violence.


Paul Monteen:Slow down. Back off. Take cover. You don’t have to win.


Curtis Gilbert:Retired Police Chief Paul [Monteen 00:24:44], is one of the instructors for this training. One way he teaches officers to slow down a situation, “Is through better communication.” [Monteen 00:24:52] advises them to avoid asking, “Yes or no questions.”


Paul Monteen:You need to open end those questions in a, “What’s bothering you? You’re mad? How come you’re mad?” So that people will tell you what they are thinking about.


Curtis Gilbert:At the end of the training session, the cops and social workers get a chance to practice those techniques.


Paul Monteen:Okay, we’re gonna work this about 15 minutes or so.


Curtis Gilbert:I sit in on one of the groups. Jean [Ranthom 00:25:18] works in the county Human Services Department. She’s assigned to play an agitated Alzheimer’s patient named Charles.


Jean Ranthom:Am I supposed to start?


Speaker 12:Yeah.


Jean Ranthom:Okay, “I’m having a temper tantrum. The nurse just made me mad.”


Curtis Gilbert:Deputy Ryan Edmonds, from the sheriff’s office, plays himself.


Ryan Edmonds:Why did she make you mad Charles?


Jean Ranthom:I just … I don’t know. I don’t know where it is. I haven’t seen my stuff. Maybe Claire knows where it’s at.


Speaker 12:So, Who’s Claire?


Ryan Edmonds:Claire.


Jean Ranthom:Claire.


Ryan Edmonds:We can certainly ask Claire. And who is Claire to you?


Curtis Gilbert:Edmonds is trying out an active listening technique covered in the class. The idea is to show you’re paying attention by repeating the last thing someone says and turning it into a question.


Jean Ranthom:She works for me.


Ryan Edmonds:She works for you?


Curtis Gilbert:Deputy Edmonds took another de-escalation training a couple of years ago. He says, “He never learned this stuff when he started his career.”


Ryan Edmonds:I went through training 12 years ago and they definitely didn’t have any same or similar topics, more of a hands-on use-of-force issues, not communication skills, active listening skills. We never really touched much on that at all.


Curtis Gilbert:So you been through a training like this before and have you had an opportunity to apply some of that stuff that you’ve learned?-


Ryan Edmonds:Absolutely. Every day.


Curtis Gilbert:Does it work?


Ryan Edmonds:Absolutely. Yeah. Works really well. (Music)


Curtis Gilbert:It’s hard to measure how well this kind of training works, especially when it comes to reducing deadly police shootings. Recent police shootings have gained a lot of media attention, usually after a video of the incident surfaces.


But the fact is most police offers will go through their entire careers without ever firing at anyone. So you can’t take a department, train the officers and then check back to see whether they shoot fewer people the next year because they probably wouldn’t have shot anyone anyway. But police departments that have embraced this training say, “It’s working.”


In Dallas, Texas, the year after officers took de-escalation training, the department saw an 18% drop in the use of force. Use of force means more than just shootings. It also includes everything from wrestling with a suspect to tasering them.


Las Vegas also made a major push for de-escalation and saw a use of force decline. But the most powerful evidence that training works, comes from the cops who’ve done it.


Jennifer Lazarchic joined the Minneapolis Police Department 21 years ago. Back then, she says, “Officers weren’t training to empathize with people or understand mental illness.” Lazarchic remembers she was taught three simple steps to get people to comply with her orders, “Ask, tell, make.”


Jennifer L.:“Ask them to do what you like ’em to do. If they don’t do it. Tell them to do what you’d like. And then when that doesn’t happen, you make them.”


Curtis Gilbert:“Make them,” means use physical force. And all those fights have taken their toll.


Jennifer L.:I stubbed my toe one time in a fight, which damaged my toe to the point where it’s now fused. I have a wrist issue that when I was trying to arrest somebody, he did the squiggle out of his little coat thing and I fell landing on the palms of my hands and injured my wrist. It’ll always hurt.


Al Letson:But Officer Lazarchic isn’t getting into as many fights as she used to. The reason, she says, “Is a few years ago, the department put her through de-escalation training.”


Ryan Edmonds:And, [actually 00:28:40], begin by having you just tell me where we are and what we’re doing?


Jean Ranthom:Huh. You want me to tell you where we are? Huh? Somewhere in the skyways of Minneapolis.


Curtis Gilbert:Even cops have a hard time navigating the maze of the Minneapolis Skyway System. It’s a series of elevated enclosed bridges connecting most of the buildings in the downtown business district. You can walk from one end of downtown to the other without ever going outside in the cold of winter or the heat of summer.


Picture an eight-mile long food court, winding from the second floor of one building to the next. I met Officer Lazarchic here because it’s one of the places where she put her de-escalation training to work.


In January, she and her partner answered a 911 call from a security guard here. A homeless man was screaming at the morning crowds in the skyways, “Accusing people of trying to steal his cell phone.” Lazarchic and her partner found him in the lobby of a finance firm.


Jennifer L.:As we approached, I could see kind of a group of maybe 10 to 15 people standing in a circle in front of that desk, kind of between the pots and the pillar right there.


Curtis Gilbert:At the center of the circle was the man, still agitated and screaming.


Jennifer L.:He was sitting on the ground. Twenty years ago, that would have been, “Okay, you go on one side of ’em. I’ll go on the other. We’ll both grab an arm and we’ll cuff him and take him to the hospital.”


 Section 3 of 5          [00:20:00 – 00:30:04]
 Section 4 of 5          [00:30:00 – 00:40:04]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


OfficerLasarcek:…on the other, we’ll both grab an arm and we’ll cuff him and then take him to the hospital. Most of the time that goes okay, but there’s those few times that it doesn’t go okay and they start to fight with you.


Curtis Gilbert:So instead Officer Lasarcek asks the crowd to back up. She kneeled down in front of the man, made eye contact, and started a conversation.


OfficerLasarcek:I just was very honest with him and let him know that I thought his behavior appeared paranoid and I pointed out that he was sweating and that it was cold and that wasn’t normal. He basically started crying. In having this conversation with him and continually reassuring him that I wanted to help him and not hurt him, he started to talk about wanting to go to the hospital.



Curtis Gilbert:


Officer Lasarcek says she got him to the ambulance without even using handcuffs and nobody got hurt.


[00:31:00]Listening to this story, I was struck by the parallels with Derry Touchstone, the man in rural Georgia who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy. Like the guy in Minneapolis, Derry was mentally ill and causing a disturbance and someone called 911. But when the officer in Georgia arrived, he went old school: Ask, Tell, Make. It ended 35 seconds later with Derry dead in the middle of the road, not on his way to the hospital like the man in Minneapolis.


[00:31:30]Officer Lasarcek says she spent at least 35 minutes talking down the homeless man, not seconds, minutes. Now, she’s helping other officers in Minneapolis learn how to do the same thing. And she says some of them were deeply skeptical at the start of the week long sessions


OfficerLasarcek:I will say I had so many people that were negative, old timers, who had been trained in the old way that would argue with me during the scenarios and say, “I’d never do that, I would never do it that way, that would never work for me.” And we would talk it through and at the end of the training would say, “Wow, You know what, I get it. That makes sense. I’m going to try that next time.”



Al Letson:


More Minneapolis police may try that next time. The city is putting all 800 of its patrol officers through a week long deescalation training. But that’s not the norm. When we come back, we’ll find out why so many police departments spend so little time on this type of training.



Speaker 4:


Nothing is significantly broken in law enforcement right now. We are better trained, better selected, better educated than ever before in the United States of America’s history. Yet we are in the toilet right now. Why?


Al Letson:That’s in a minute on Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.



Speaker 5:


Hey there. I’m Will Craft of APM Reports and I was the data reporter for the investigation you’ve been hearing all this hour. As we’ve reported, de-escalation training for police officers isn’t required in most states. In 34 states, training decisions are left to local agencies. Most conduct no or very little of this training. So, what’s the situation state-by-state? Go to to see the training requirements for your state. There you can also read our full investigation and find additional information on other police shootings that we’ve looked into. Again, that’s



Al Letson:


From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson.


[00:34:00]Barrack Obama made improving the relationship between police departments and the black community a major priority. His task force on 21st century policing recommended a variety of changes to the way law enforcement agencies trained their officers.


[Recorded audio]: “It will be good for police and it will be good for the communities involved, and [inaudible 00:34:21] it will be good for the country.”


This hour, we have been focusing on one of those training reforms. It’s called de-escalation. The goal is for police to use force less often and to prevent the kinds of shootings that have put a wedge between police and communities in recent years. But, America has a new president now, and Donald Trump doesn’t like the Obama administration’s approach.


[00:34:30][Recorded audio]: “They have fostered the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America, and all throughout America.”


Trump promises to support cops and not question the way they do their jobs.


[Recorded audio]: “The war on our police must end and it must end now.”


[00:35:00]So, the Trump administration probably won’t be pushing local police departments to train officers in de-escalation. But, even when Obama was in office, he didn’t get the police to change much. That’s because the federal government can’t tell local police departments what to do. State governments can. But only 16 states mandate de-escalation training. 34 don’t. Almost every state has a small group of people in charge of making that decision. It’s called a Police Officers Standards and Training Board, or POST Board. We wanted to find out why they don’t require police departments to train officers in de-escalation. Reporters from Reveal and American Public Media contacted all the POST boards. Here’s Curtis Gilbert again of APM Reports to tell us what they found.



Curtis Gilbert:


De-escalation is a controversial subject in the law enforcement world. Mike Sherlock spent 30 years as a cop. He held just about every job on the force.



MIke Sherlock:


I actually worked Robbery/Homicide for awhile. When you call a witness or something on the phone and go, “Hey, this is Detective Sherlock”, they don’t believe you very often. Let me put it that way.


Curtis Gilbert:You almost had to be a cop, with the last name Sherlock.


MIke Sherlock:Yeah, it was destiny, you know?


Curtis Gilbert:Now Sherlock runs the Nevada POST Commission. It doesn’t mandate de-escalation training and Sherlock doesn’t think it should.


MIke Sherlock:I think it’s based on a false premise. The false premise is that officers are prone to excessive force.



Curtis Gilbert:


Sherlock says Nevada police officers are already taught that communication skills are key and force is a last resort. But, he says over-emphasizing that could be dangerous. He worries it could lead officers to hesitate when they need to be decisive.


MIke Sherlock:I want officers in my neighborhood who make legal, moral, ethical decisions. It may mean that they have to escalate what they are doing to save my daughter or save my son. My point is we have to be very careful how we couch this. If it’s about using no force, we’re going to have officers hurt and we’re going to have citizens hurt.



Curtis Gilbert:


Do you think with better training, you could save a life or two, though? You know, every once in a while there’s an officer, and it’s not that he did anything illegal or immoral, but just that he went in there, charging in and got himself into a situation where there was only one option left and that was to use his firearm, and that maybe with some better tactics, calling for back-up, taking more time, that maybe he wouldn’t have to have that be the only option.



MIke Sherlock:


I agree with that, but again, I go back to we do do that. That is what we’re teaching. Doing exactly what you’re talking about, training exactly what you’re talking about, is the reason that we have so few use of force incidents in this country.



Curtis Gilbert:


This is a pretty common attitude among law enforcement officials. We already know how to de-escalate, we do it every day. But doing it too much could get us hurt or killed. When APM Reports reviewed training records from police departments around the country, we found most of them had devoted hardly any time to de-escalation training, and most POST Boards don’t make them. Many POST Board leaders said they have no problem with de-escalation training, but they do have a problem with mandating it. They want to let local police departments decide how they let officers spend their time. Then there’s the cost. A 40 hour de-escalation training can easily run more than $500 per officer. But, money and time aren’t the only barriers. Frank Zimring is a law professor at UC Berkeley. He studies police shootings. Zimring points out that most of the seats on state POST Boards are held by current or former law enforcement officials.



Frank Zimring:


One of the reasons why these fancy looking boards are not aggressive is because they are essentially representatives of local governments.


Curtis Gilbert:So, you’re saying because they’re local police chiefs, they don’t want to pass mandates on themselves or their peers.


Frank Zimring:You bet! That isn’t rocket science. That’s basic political science.



Curtis Gilbert:


That leaves it up to local police chiefs to decide what training their officers need. Zimring says reducing the use of force doesn’t seem to be a priority for most of them.


Frank Zimring:De-escalation is going to work only when saving civilian lives becomes an important objective of police administration and training.


Curtis Gilbert:And you think that basically, they have not shown that they care about his issue.


Frank Zimring:Not to date.


 Section 4 of 5          [00:30:00 – 00:40:04]
 Section 5 of 5          [00:40:00 – 00:53:16]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


Speaker 1:We found that police departments often don’t change until they have a high profile shooting. John Ohl led the police department in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Anthony for more than a decade. When he retired last year, he gave an interview to a reporter at a community newspaper.


How’s your day going?


John Ohl:Good.


Speaker 1:In the interview, Ohl was dismissive of the Obama administration’s push for police reform.



John Ohl:


Nothing’s significantly broken in law enforcement right now. We are better trained, better selected, better educated, held to more standards, higher accountable with better policies than ever before in the United States of America’s history, yet we’re in the toilet right now. Why?


Speaker 1:Ohl told the reporter his department was already doing 90% of what the panel recommended.


John Ohl:And I just read and go, “Oh, yeah, doing, doing. Some people don’t do that? Doing, doing, doing.”


Speaker 1:But when it comes deescalation training, the St. Anthony Police Department did significantly less than many other Twin Cities suburbs.


St. Anthony officers did plenty of other training, though.


In 2014, two St. Anthony officers went through a course called the Bulletproof Mind. It was designed by former army ranger and West Point psychology professor Dave Grossman.


Curtis Gilbert:Dave Grossman begins the sharpening of your bulletproof mind with a glimpse into the world you enter every time you put on your uniform and gun belt. It’s a world you need to better understand to go home safely at the end of every shift.


Speaker 1:This version of the training was posted to YouTube back in 2008.


Dave Grossman:We are living in most violent times in peacetime human history.


Speaker 1:In it, Grossman paints a frightening picture of police life.


Dave Grossman:You are not dealing with ragtag, odds-and-ends criminals out there. You’re dealing with individuals who are motivated to kill in a way we have never seen before.


Speaker 1:The training is supposed to prepare officers mentally so they won’t flinch if they need to shoot.


Dave Grossman:We’re going to explore the dynamics of another human being looking at you across the sites, and you pulling the trigger and snuffing their life out.


Speaker 1:Grossman says police need to think like warriors and prepare themselves for combat. That’s pretty much the opposite of the kind of deescalation training Obama’s taskforce recommended.


Last summer, one of the St. Anthony police officers who took the Bulletproof Mind training shot and killed a black man named Philando Castile during a traffic stop.


Diamond Reynold:We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back.


Speaker 1:[crosstalk 00:42:43] You might remember what happened. Castile told the officer he was legally carrying the gun.



Diamond Reynold:


He was reaching for his wallet-


Speaker 1:He was in the driver’s seat, his girlfriend’s four-year-old daughter was in the backseat, and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the passenger’s seat.


Diamond Reynold:Please don’t tell me this Lord, please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone.


Speaker 1:[crosstalk 00:43:01] Moments after the shooting, she took out her phone and broadcast her boyfriend’s last breaths live on Facebook.



Diamond Reynold:


Please, Jesus, no! Please! No!


Al Letson:The officer who shot Philando Castile is now facing manslaughter charges. The St. Anthony Police Department is working with the Justice Department to review its training protocols. The Minnesota legislature is considering a bill that would require every officer in the state to take 16 hours of deescalation training. It has bipartisan support.


Curtis Gilbert is with me now and Curtis, first off, how unusual is it for state legislature to step in and mandate training for all police departments?


Curtis Gilbert:Well, if you look nationwide, it is unusual, because most states do not require police departments to train their officers in deescalation, but for those states who have made that decision, and there are 16 of those, it usually is the legislature that steps up and says, “This is something that all of our officers need to do.” So, in other words, even though just about every state has a board that can administratively, sort of with a wave of magic wind, require all police departments to do this training … Those boards usually don’t do it. It’s usually the legislature essentially steps in, usurps the post board, and requires every police department to train its officers in deescalation.


Al Letson:So you guys have been writing on this story for several months. What’s the big takeaway on deescalation training?


Curtis Gilbert:Well, the thing that really jumped out at me when I looked at the training records from hundreds of police departments from around the country is police do a ton of training and they don’t do much of it in deescalation. And the conclusion we draw from that is if the state isn’t going to require police departments to do this, then they’re probably not going to do it.


Al Letson:We heard in your stories that some stories are changing their training policies. In San Francisco, Minneapolis, police chiefs are trying to get their officers to slow down. Can you talk about some of the others?


Curtis Gilbert:Sure, yeah. New York, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas … So what you can hear there is these are some big cities. There are some big cities that are taking the lead even as most police departments aren’t doing this, and there are also some cities that are trying some creative stuff, including Philadelphia.


I had this interesting phone call with Charles Ramsey. He used to be the Philadelphia police commissioner. And a couple years ago, Charles Ramsey was looking over the list of awards that his police department gave out and he had this thought, which was that most of those awards were for, essentially, officers who’d been involved with dramatic fire fights.


Charles Ramsey:And we thought about it and we said, “Well what about those incidents when an officer was confronted with a very dangerous situation and they didn’t resort to using their firearm for an example?” We need to recognize that as well.


Curtis Gilbert:So now in addition for medals for valor, heroism, bravery, and honor, Philadelphia gives out an official commendation for tactical deescalation. Ramsey says the decision was controversial at first. And he was worried officers wouldn’t even show up tot the ceremony to accept their certificate.


Charles Ramsey:Every single person showed up to receive the award. And I haven’t heard anything negative about it since.


Curtis Gilbert:Ramsey co-chaired Obama’s task force on 21st century policing. Last year, he retired from the Philadelphia police department, but the award lives on.


I wanted to meet some of the winners.


Do you guys mind if we just pull the door closed, just in case there’s phones ringing and stuff out there?


And the department connected with me Officers William Murphy and Ryan McAdams. They were recently awarded for the way they handled a 911 call last year. I asked them to tell me about it. Officer McAdams speaks first.


Officer McAdams:Around 10:30, we received a call about a person with a gun.


Officer Murphy:He was up from Cape May, New Jersey. He was intoxicated. It was his birthday.


Officer McAdams:We get to the house and the lady comes out, approaches us, and tells us what happens.


Officer Murphy:She stated that a male was cursing her out over a parking spot. Something as simple as that, where there was multiple other parking spots. She felt scared, said, “I’m gonna call 911.” And then he proceeds to tell her, “Fine, go ahead, I’m gonna go get a gun.”


Officer McAdams:So we go around the back alley way. He’s walking to the rear of her house.


Officer Murphy:At that point, we ask him to show us your hands.


Officer McAdams:Both draw our weapons because we see him with his right hand behind his back.


Officer Murphy:Now we’re assuming, based on the call, that he had a gun. And again your training kicks in. His hand’s behind his back, you get a call from someone with a gun, so, at that point, our guns our drawn, telling him, yelling at him, to show us his hands.


Officer McAdams:Kept saying it over and over and over again …


Officer Murphy:What, four, five times? Screaming. After what seemed like a half-hour, but it was probably five minutes, he finally raised up his right arm in a 90 degree manner.


Officer McAdams:And when he pulled his hand out, he had a 357 revolver in his hand.


Officer Murphy:Hands on the handle, he didn’t raise it towards us, he raised it to the side.


Curtis Gilbert:Would you have been justified in shooting him?


Officer Murphy:Yes, we would’ve justified the shooting. With a flick of the wrist, and you can do your history and see officers have been killed just as easy. Threat’s not over, even though he’s not pointing it.


But again, we don’t want to shoot anybody. Though, that person loses their life, we still have to live with that. It’s not something any cop wants to do.


Officer McAdams:Neither one of us felt that our lives were at significant threat at that point, because, like my partner said, it wasn’t pointed at us, the weapon.


Officer Murphy:His demeanor wasn’t one of violence. You can see he was either drunk or confused.


Officer McAdams:We begin to tell him to drop the weapon.


Officer Murphy:Drop the gun.


Officer McAdams:We continue to tell the same thing to him.


Officer Murphy:You can almost see the wheels turning in his head. I think he was just caught in that paralysis. And the light bulb went off realizing this is a bad situation.


Officer McAdams:So he dropped it.


Officer Murphy:Finally drops the gun.


Officer McAdams:If that didn’t happen, who knows where we’d be at in the situation now.


Officer Murphy:And he actually was thanking us for not shooting him.


Officer McAdams:Once we put cuffs on him and locked him up, he was starting to come to it and realize, “Wow, I really messed up,” and that’s what he kept telling us the whole time … And he kept apologizing to us.


Officer Murphy:And as then, as Ryan explained to him, well thank you, for not making us shoot you.


Officer McAdams:It did make us feel a lot better that we didn’t have to go through that situation and possibly take someone’s life and live with that afterward.


I guess a few months later, we see him in court … He told us he went in the AA classes because he was having a problem with drinking. So he’s able to say that to us now, and we’re able to see him … And hopefully he gets better from whatever he was suffering form, and live his life and hopefully nothing runs in with the police again.


Curtis Gilbert:Philadelphia police office Ryan McAdams, he and Officer William Murphy, are two of the 57 Philadelphia cops who’ve been honored with the department’s official commendation for tactical deescalation.


A couple other police departments give out similar awards. In Los Angeles, the union-representing police officers opposes the honor. It argues the preservation of life award … Puts officers’ lives at risk.


Al Letson:Curtis Gilbert is a correspondent with APM Reports. They’re an investigative journalism group based at American Public Media. Journalists from APM Reports spent month analyzing training records from law enforcement agencies from around the country and looking at state requirements.


Since they began work on this project, two additional states implemented new deescalation training requirements for police officers. Some other proposals are moving through state legislatures as well. But looking down the list of states that have passed deescalation requirements in the past few years, there’s a common thread.


Missouri, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois. Many were places where police shootings became national news. The states only changed police training after somebody died.


Today’s show was reported and produced by Curtis Gilbert and edited by Catherine Winter. They had help from their colleagues at APM Reports. Jennifer Vogel, Emily Haavik, and Ethan Nelson, along with data reporter Will Crafton.


APM Reports editor-in-chief Chris Worthington reveals Michael Montgomery produced our San Francisco story. Additional reporting from Shoshana Walter. To see dash cam footage of the Georgia shooting, and to see what police training your state requires, visit


So, if you liked our episode, check out Crimetown from our friends at Gimlet Media and the creators of HBO’s “The Jinx.” Crimetown was named by the New York Times as one of the best new podcasts of 2016. They called it a podcast the advances the true crime genre and in an engrossing and disturbing portrait of organized crime in Providence, RI.


It’s a story of alliances and betrayals, heists and stings, cooked crops, and honest mobsters. And it’s a lot of fun. So subscribe to Crimetown on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. We recommend starting with the episode “Divine Providence.”


Our sound design team is the [Wonder Twins 00:52:28]. My man, Jay Breezy, Mr. Jim Briggs, and [Claire C. Nomullen 00:52:33].


They had help this week from [Catherine Raymondo 00:52:36] and Mary Lee Williams; our head of studios Christa Scharfenberg; Amy Pauls our editor-in-chief; Suzanne Rebers, our executive editor; and our executive producer is Kevin Sullivan. Our theme music is by [Camerata 00:52:47].


[Like, support for reveals provided by 00:52:47] The Reva & David Logan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. And Catherine D. McArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Reveal is the co-production, Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX.


I’m Al Letson, and remember, there is always more to the story.


 Section 5 of 5          [00:40:00 – 00:53:16]

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Michael Montgomery is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. He has led collaborations with the Associated Press, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Frontline, KQED and others.

Previously, Montgomery was a senior reporter at American Public Media, a special correspondent for the BBC and an associate producer with CBS News. He began his career in eastern Europe, covering the fall of communism and wars in former Yugoslavia for the Daily Telegraph and Los Angeles Times. His investigations into human rights abuses in the Balkans led to the arrest and conviction of Serbian and Albanian paramilitaries and creation of a new war crimes court based in The Hague. Montgomery’s honors include Murrow, Peabody, IRE, duPont, Third Coast and Overseas Press Club awards. He is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Shoshana Walter was a senior reporter and producer at Reveal, covering the criminal justice and child welfare systems. She's working on a book for Simon & Schuster about the failures of our country's addiction treatment system. At Reveal, she reported on exploitative drug rehab programs that require participants to work without pay, armed security guards, and sex abuse and trafficking in the marijuana industry. Her reporting has prompted new laws, numerous class-action lawsuits and government investigations. Her stories have been named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Selden Ring and National Magazine Awards. She has also been honored with the Livingston Award for National Reporting, the IRE medal, the Edward R. Murrow award, the Knight Award for Public Service, a Loeb Award and Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting. Her Reveal podcast, "American Rehab," was named one of the best podcasts of the year by The New Yorker and The Atlantic and prompted a congressional investigation.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is a fellow with the Watchdog Writers Group at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and is based in Oakland, California.