POLICE Magazine

APR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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44 P O L I C E A P R I L 2 019 I recently had a conversation with a friend, former colleague, and police officer about the important concept of slowing down in police work. We discussed the lost art of taking valuable time to assess a situation when re- sponding to dispatched calls. During our conversation, my friend described a personal experience he had that I am going to share in hopes of persuading you that time is sometimes on your side. So don't be in such a rush or you may cause an already tense situation to become even more dangerous. My friend was dispatched to a call of a subject in the middle of a busy road- way. e man was not clothed, impeding traffic, and possibly under the influ- ence or suffering from a mental illness. En route to the call he heard over the radio that a mental health professional, who works in tandem with law enforce- ment, was also being dispatched to the call in case his services could be used rather than jail or a hospital bed. When my buddy arrived on the scene, he began to speak with the naked man using down-to-earth conversation and the persuasion skills he learned in crisis intervention training (CIT). e conversation and persuasion lasted an hour, and the man exited the roadway safely and without incident. DON'T TALK COP Success. But how? In short, my friend did not "talk cop" to this subject. We are all familiar with the cliché example of a police officer speaking to a subject; everything is a directive, robot- ic, and not human, and it is void of em- pathy and emotion. My buddy, who is a SWAT operator, veteran deputy, Urban Shield competitor, and a well-respected member of the law enforcement com- munity should be the poster child for "talking cop" and rushing into a situ- ation, however, he explained to me he had identified a better way to mitigate situations by simply slowing down. e story goes on, that during the course of his conversation with the subject, he learned the man was clearly suffering from a mental health disorder, and that could have been very danger- ous for the officers. e man was a box- er with the physique to prove it. If not carefully handled, the interaction could have turned into a fight. My friend used a casual discussion about boxing to gain compliance and avoid a potentially violent and unsafe situation. When making contact with the mentally ill, don't rush in. Take your time and talk to the subject in human terms. Remember, it's not about you. PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES HOW TO SPEAK TO THE MENTALLY ILL BARKING ORDERS AND GIVING DEMANDS TO SOMEONE WHO IS ALREADY AGITATED WILL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE. H DARRELL BURTON THE WINNING EDGE

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