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School resource officers learn about Gen Z, including slang, in OPD training

Communication critical to de-escalate situations
Posted at 6:57 PM, Sep 24, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Why would the phrases "weird flex but okay" and "yeet" be uttered at the Omaha Police training academy?

This YouTube video on "How To Speak Gen Z" was featured at Thursday morning's two-hour de-escalation training for school resource officers.

The point: communication is critical to avoid use of force in schools, and generational language gaps are not uncommon. It was de-escalation training, or on how to avoid using force in schools.

"We're there to protect them," the instructor told the school resource officers. "We're there to make the school setting safe… We want, really, to stay out of the way."

To work with a different generation, you must understand them. The School Resource Officers were taught that three quarters of people in Gen Z say school shootings are a significant stressor. A quarter are often on their phone or another device after midnight, the instructor said, meaning students might often be sleep deprived. They are often more willing to speak about personal issues like anxiety and depression than other generations, the instructor said.

The presentation on de-escalation included video of a 2015 incident where a school resource officer flipped a student's desk and dragged them, for texting in class, as an example of what not to do.

Incidents like that, in South Carolina, have sparked calls for the removal of school resource officers nationwide. Omaha Police's purpose for inviting the media to view the event seemed clear: they wanted to publicize what they're doing to make sure there's no undue violence in schools.

Training Director Lt. Ken Fox said the training given Thursday morning is more than what is typically offered. He said the school resource officers requested this additional training for more information on de-escalation.

He said said calls for school resource officer's removal from schools should be rejected, saying their record in protecting schools is clear. He said he hopes productive conversations occur when issues come up.

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