Grand Canyon University looking at new ways to train officers

PHOENIX -  A former Phoenix police chief is looking at new ways to train officers.

Joe Yahner retired from the Phoenix Police Department in 2016. In 2017, he began working in the private sector as Grand Canyon University's Director of Public Safety.

Yahner tells ABC15 much of his training was on the job. Now he's hoping to change that.

"Here at GCU, they are getting all those skills ahead of time, before they even get into the academy. So they are much better prepared to be a very successful police officer,"  said Yahner.

Since many of the use of force cases have come about in our Valley and across the country, University officials have taken notice. They felt they needed to take action when it comes to training officers.

"Law enforcement has learned a lot. But one of the things that hasn't been as emphasized in the past as it is now, and here at GCU, and in law enforcement agencies throughout the country, is communication. Crisis communication. Active listening. Conflict management. All those types of things," said Yahner.

Students are being taught about de-escalation and that every community is different which means it will have different needs.

"They are going to be people that care about the community. It's not just a job. Right? I'm not going in there to chase the bad guy. I'm going to the community to help the community solve it's own problems. Be a member of that community." said Sherman Elliott, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

GCU leaders said they spoke with many people in the law enforcement field and asked exactly what do they need in an officer?

"The bottom line, they kept coming back with is they need problem solvers. I need effective communicators. I need critcal thinkers." said Elliott.

Those are the skill sets Elliott and Yahner are hoping to instill in the classrooms at GCU.

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