LA CROSSE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Each year, La Crosse police take part in training sessions to become more effective law enforcers. La Crosse police officers are sharpening their skills this week, while also learning new policing tactics.

As part of the police department’s annual in-service training, a new course known as ICAT is being used to focus on specific types of situations.

“Responding to incidents where the subject has a weapon that is not a firearm,” said investigator Alex Burg.

Burg says the method is meant to de-escalate matters with a person wielding a knife or a bat that may also be experiencing mental health or other crisis.

“The idea is to utilize space and time. When you’re making contact with somebody with such a weapon, you want to have adequate space to be able to react. Space is going to give you time to communicate and set up less-lethal options, and work towards a solution to have a positive outcome for everyone,” said Burg.

The iCAT program was developed in 2016, and this is the first year La Crosse police are training on it.  More familiar techniques are also being practiced this week, including ones that put officers behind the wheel.

“We’re practicing the pit maneuver; when officers are involved in a pursuit, they can utilize the pit technique if the option arises,” said Lieutenant Cory Brandl.

The police department trains on emergency vehicle operations every two years. Whether it be iCAT or the pit maneuver, Brandl says it’s crucial to teach officers how to apply those methods in the field.

“With all of the tactics and techniques, this is not something that officers utilize outside of training unless they’re doing it if they’re involved in a pursuit; so, we absolutely need to practice this technique,” said Brandl.

All sworn staff members of the La Crosse Police Department are taking part in all aspects of the training. This week’s police training is building off of sessions that were held in January and February. Today’s simulations took place at the La Crosse Airport.