Victoria News editor Pamela Roth takes part in the Victoria Police Department's Reality Based Training in Crisis Incident De-escalation at the Boys and Girls Club on Yates Street. Roth deals with a distraught man (Constable Craig Barker) on a bus. Behind her is CTV reporter Scott Cunningham who was also taking part in the training. At far left is trainer Sergeant Greg Holmes who was observing the exercise.

Reality-based training with Victoria police

With my eyes closed, I’m guided into a room by Victoria police Const. Kristin Greffard and told to lie down on the floor.

  • Oct. 16, 2015 10:00 a.m.

— Pamela Roth

With my eyes closed, I’m guided into a room by Victoria police Const. Kristin Greffard and told to lie down on the floor.

She puts baby oil on my hands that’s meant to simulate blood. On this day I’m Constable Roth and I’ve been cut during a knife fight with a criminal.

“When I ask you to turn around, open your eyes and address the threat in front of you,” says Greffard.

Standing nearly on top of me is a large man armed with a butcher knife. I tell him to back away, but he doesn’t listen, only threatening to hurt me instead.

It’s a difficult situation. There’s no time to ponder what to do. My first response is to get up and run away, but I’m a police officer so I have to protect myself and the public from this dangerous man.

Instead of getting up, I freeze and smile at the man, hoping he’ll go away. Greffard calls a brief time out to remind me of the options I have available on my belt ­—  a gun, pepper spray and baton.

Still on my back, I kick the man in the leg, then push myself across the floor, fumbling with my holster to retrieve my pistol.

It’s difficult to communicate with the man while trying to grab my gun. My heart is pounding. Eventually I shoot him in the leg and he falls to the ground.

“When we have somebody that’s coming at us with a knife, everybody is going to feel some degree of fear in that scenario and how they react to that and deal with it may be different from one person to the next,” said Greffard after the scenario.

“It all comes down to our threat perceptions, and if we choose a level of force we have to be able to articulate that lower levels of force were deemed ineffective or inappropriate, and high levels of force were justified.”

The scenario is one of five that members of the media went through as part of reality-based training for all members of the Victoria Police Department.

Using officers as actors trained to demonstrate certain behaviours, the scenarios are made as real as possible to enforce an officer’s fundamental skills and any deficiencies that may arise. Each scenario is based on real events that have happened in the department or other police agencies, along with trends officers are noticing such as more edged weapons on the street.

“We want to prepare officers so that in case they are presented with that, they’re not going to go into that fight or flight mode and fight because we don’t have the option of flight,” said Greffard.

“At the end of the day, I really like going home to my son, so I’m going to do everything I can in terms of training to prepare myself and the other officers to make sure they get home safely at the end of the night.”

In another scenario outside, I’m briefed about a situation that arose on a tourist bus. The bus was on its way from the Craigdorroch Castle to the Butchard Gardens when a passenger became erratic, causing the driver to pull over and evacuate the bus.

The driver tells me and my partner (Scott Cunningham from CTV News) more about the man I see pacing back and forth on the bus. He’s average size, in his early thirties, and talking fearfully about the demons he sees outside.

On the bus, we introduce ourselves as police officers that are here to help. Cunningham takes the lead and approaches the frightened man who’s out of his mind, trying to negotiate with him to come off the bus.

“What can we do to help you?” Cunningham asks calmly.

“It’s not safe! Get off the bus!” the man shouts, as he hops anxiously from seat to seat. I’m taken back by his strange demeanor, unsure of what to say or do.

The man pulls a knife when Cunningham gets too close. The situation is tense. Cunningham grabs his pistol and I take out pepper spray when Sgt. Greg Holmes calls a time out to remind us of the techniques used to communicate with someone in a crisis and establish a connection.

“You want to connect with that person. That’s what they need. They are having the worst day of their life,” said Holmes after the scenario.

“Communication is what solves an issue and having patience and taking time to do that. When you guys started talking and humanized yourself and built that trust and learned what was going on with him, it was easily resolved. He came off the bus and that’s the kind of outcome we want.”



Just Posted

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to fall fake eagle tree at Ogden Point

Last year a fake tree was installed to try to entice eagles to stay in the area, without much success

Ambitious B.C. Aviation Museum need $10M to get iconic Lancaster back in the air

Volunteers flock to work on bomber, restoration expected to take 10 years

Saanich to potentially host first hydrogen fuel station on Vancouver Island

Station proposed for corner of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue

Three children to run Victoria as ‘Mayors’ on Tuesday

Local kids will be honorary mayors for a day

Langford man sentenced to 15 months for child pornography collection

Andre Mollon sentenced for posession of more than 1,000 child pornography images and 70 videos

Victoria hosts ‘Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave’

The hockey cave was recently featured on a Netflix special

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

Most Read