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WIU's Psychology Department Secures $700,000 Grant for De-Escalation Training Center

Western Illinois University Psychology Professor Kimberley A. McClure has been awarded a $746,000 grant from the United States Department of Justice for the development of a cutting-edge virtual training center, aptly named the De-escalation Training through Active Learning (DeTAL) Assessment and Research Center.


The DeTAL Center is positioned to become a pivotal resource, not only for West Central Illinois, but also for the broader Midwest region and beyond. This internet-based initiative is tailored to serve the diverse communities and police organizations in the area, offering virtual training to rural, suburban and urban police organizations.


The DeTAL Center focuses on evidence-based de-escalation content and scenario-based practice. The uniqueness of this initiative is in the incorporation of community feedback on de-escalation curriculum content and scenarios. As an extension of the Professional Research Pool for Criminal Justice Science (www.prpforcjscience.org), DeTal will augment evidence-based policing and the educational work already conducted through the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board Executive Institute (ILETSBEI) (www.iletsbei.org).


The goal of this initiative is to ensure that officer scenario-based training reflects the lived experiences of community members that influences officer-citizen interactions. McClure, a teacher and researcher in the field of forensic psychology, has developed her expertise in Psychology and Law generally with a specialization in eyewitness memory, psychology of police operations and psychology of investigation. Her research focus is on human interactions that influence behavior in relation to legal contexts. Taking a social-cognitive approach to better understand how people perceive, remember and interact with officers and other emergency service personnel allows for the development and assessment of “soft-skills” (e.g. rapport building), preparing officers to be aware of, and to serve, the unique needs of people in rural, suburban and urban areas. This project will also explore culture in relation to race and ethnicity, developing scenarios that better reflect the lived experie

nces of people living in the Midwest. Fundamental to this point is an acknowledgement that “one size” doesn’t fit all in terms of police service.


The DeTAL Center's mission is to develop and assess soft-skills curriculum for optimal interactions between community members and emergency service professionals generally. The comprehensive approach emphasizes community member and officer wellness that involves:

Developing and evaluating instructional options (e.g., online, virtual reality).

Creating criteria and evaluating strategies for de-escalation certification.

Soliciting feedback from community members about de-escalation training.

Developing trauma-informed curriculum.

Increasing awareness of the influence of group dynamics and cultural perspectives within human interactions.


In collaboration with regional partners, the Police Training Institute at the University of Illinois, the Missouri Safety Center at the University of Central Missouri and REALTrainingSystems (RTS, LLC), WIU aims to implement an adult-learning model tailored for virtual scenario-based de-escalation training that contributes to the professionalism of officers and the health and wellness of community members and officers alike.

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