Dr. John Jay Hall - Neuroscience Course For Law Enforcement
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In the wake of a number of questionable police shooting, there is a concern as to whether more can be done to improve de-escalation practices. The purpose of this presentation is to address that concern via neuroscience. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and the network of sensory nerve cells called neurons. It is an interdisciplinary field which includes: psychology, biology, chemistry, and physics. This presentation on neuroscience purports to heighten the awareness and understanding of the role of the amygdala or emotion brain when an individual perceives a stimuli that represents danger, harm, or threats. This author believes that there is a need to include neuroscience research into the de-escalation dialogue for the following reasons: a) individuals perceive danger differently, b) police shooting can be viewed as a pattern and practice across departments, and c) policies and procedures are written from the position of the cognitive brain. Epstein (1994), a leading researcher in neuroscience, informs us that policies and procedures can be overridden by the emotional brain when individuals are experiencing fear. At present, police shooting are assessed based on a legal standard. All police concur that police work is a dangerous profession. Despite this knowledge, there is no known method to assess an officer’s fear threshold. This course is the first step in clarifying the role that neuroscience can play in filling this void. It is the believe of this author that using neuroscience as a learning intervention can contribute to the goal of promoting the “sanctity of life”.