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It’s not every day a police chief sits down with the Speaker of the House to discuss strategies for departments across the country. But on Monday, Camden County Police Chief J. Scott Thomson did just that.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, sat down with members of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to learn about the de-escalation training program they have developed. Thomson, who was elected president of PERF in 2015, spoke about the organization’s Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics (iCAT) program. It’s part of PERF’s efforts to address the civil unrest felt in several communities across the country regarding the use of police force.

“Speaker Ryan’s awareness to the issues and interest in working to address them was inspiring,” Thomson says. “It was very important for him to be aware of the police training programs and the cities that are experiencing progress with the current challenges vexing communities across this country.”

Besides the iCAT training, Thomson also emphasized the importance and potential country-wide benefits of community policing, “If done right, it can build trust and reduce crime. Camden is a prime example.”

Camden was a pilot site for the iCAT training program, and Thomson says the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Critical situations that would have otherwise been solved with deadly force are now resolved with far less injury to both police and the public thanks to officer training. “Our mentality and culture has shifted to understand that just because we can use deadly force doesn’t automatically mean we should,” Thomson says.

Camden’s progress has been recognized by many people of influence, which demonstrates just how effective the program can be, says Thomson. “Just knowing that the President, the Attorney General and now the House Speaker know of the amazing work CCPD’s officers do under some extremely challenging situations makes me very proud of my cops and my city.”

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