Protestor Boss Bastain of St. Louis locks arms with others as they confront Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers in front of the Ferguson police station on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. Marchers are entering a third day of protests against Sunday's police shooting of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)
Police guard the entrance to a gas station in front of a memorial to Antonio Martin on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, in Berkeley, Mo. The mayor of the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley urged calm Wednesday after a white police officer killed the black 18-year-old who police said pointed a gun at him, reigniting tensions that have lingered since the death of Michael Brown in neighboring Ferguson. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)
Police guard the entrance to a gas station in front of a memorial to Antonio Martin on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, in Berkeley, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

Christine Byers, THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (STLToday.com)—Like many officers involved in deadly force encounters, Darren Wilson said his training took over when he shot Michael Brown in Ferguson.

But what if Wilson had been trained differently?

The national upheaval from Brown’s death, and some others since, has put enormous pressure on law enforcement to find ways to control people’s behavior while using less violence. One possibility — simple but repugnant to some officers — is to teach police to back away from certain difficult situations until help can arrive.

The concept is known as “tactical retreat” or sometimes “tactical withdrawal” or “tactical restraint.”

“We add the word, ‘tactical’ and not just ‘retreating’ or ‘giving up’ because that’s what makes it palatable for police officers,” explained Seth Stoughton, a criminal law professor at the University of South Carolina. The former Florida officer is a nationally prominent advocate for applying the softer approach.

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