The national upheaval from Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Mo., 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, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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. "It's basically the choice to work smarter rather than harder."

Chiefs of the St. Louis and St. Louis County police have said in recent interviews they are reviewing training with the principles of tactical retreat in mind.

But it’s a delicate dance, warned Sam Dotson, the city chief.

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