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Wethersfield officers offered de-escalation training

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WETHERSFIELD - It's been a turbulent year for police departments across the country and a former Connecticut cop addresses those tensions in a new police training program.

Wednesday in Wethersfield, retired police Lieutenant Ray Hassett played out a scenario as police officers watched.

He showed a situation that could escalate one way, but hopefully could be deescalated if the officer remains calm and listens.

"How we change that culture of mistrust, is really by one job at a time,” said Hassett, “if you have a good police contact with me, and I'm able to help you, then it pays it forward to the next police officer."

Hassett has developed a training program aimed at helping police survey emotions at a time when mistrust is at its height.

He pulls from his 25 years as a New Haven police veteran and his work as a professional actor.

He's appeared in movies like The Empire Strikes Back, Superman, and The Spy Who Loved Me.

"Acting is really about reading emotion and acting with emotion," said Hassett.

"I think it's very beneficial, we should seize every opportunity we have to train,” said Wethersfield Police Officer Joel DiLoreto who was participating in the training.

Part psychology and part compassion, Hassett believes this skill set can help save lives.

"We want people to trust us,” said Hassett, “and a combination of experience, acting skills, knowledge of people and knowledge of yourself really is a great start."

Lieutenant Hassett has trained the New Haven Police Department and Yale University Police.

He is working on his fall training schedule.

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