POLICE Magazine

APR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1099237

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Page 48 of 60

46 P O L I C E A P R I L 2 019 PROFESSIONAL MISTAKES Although this seems like a happy end- ing to this story, it did not end with getting the subject out of the road. e mental health professional who was dispatched to the call arrived on the scene and complicated things. My friend explained to me, "Burton, I set everything up for this mental health worker. All he had to do was take his time and communicate with the citizen so we could get voluntary compliance to transport him to the hospital for an evaluation and everything would be fine." Instead, my friend said the men- tal health professional approached both the subject and himself and command- ed the man to get into the police vehicle so he could be taken to the hospital on a temporary mental health hold. e subject looked at my friend and said, "What?" e mental health professional be- came even more adamant. "You heard me, get into the police car or I will call an ambulance, and they will strap you to a gurney and transport you," he said. e subject told my friend he was not going to go anywhere with the mental health worker and walked off down the street. My friend caught up with him and empathized, "Yeah, I wouldn't go with that guy either; he's an asshole." Ultimately the story ends when my friend spent just a little more time catching up with the man as he walked away and convinced him to voluntarily go to the hospital on the mental health hold. LESSONS LEARNED Here are some important takeaways from this story: • When arriving at the scene of a mental health call, if circumstances al- low, slow down. • Barking orders and giving demands to someone who is already agitated will only exacerbate the situation. • Do not use "cop talk." Be empathet- ic to the subject, and communicate with the subject to build rapport. • Finally, remember this—if nothing else—it is not about you. Effectiveness is often hindered when we act hastily based on our own agenda. How long is talking to this subject going to take? I need to hurry up and get to the next call. Both are examples of thoughts that support speeding up and not slowing down. And they can make things worse. Seasoned officers often understand the logic behind slowing down, and ev- ery once in a while, there is a unicorn rookie officer who understands as well. Police officers are conditioned to be ready for conflict and resistance. How- ever, if conflict and resistance can be overcome with relationships and logic, that is true success. If there is time, take the time to build relationships. If there is no time, then proceed accordingly. Long ago, my mentor from the Uni- versity Police Department, Sgt. Wash- ington, told me, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." My friend understood this concept that day when he took the time to talk to the mentally disturbed subject. Will things always go as planned? No. But we owe it to those in crisis to let them know that it is not about us as law enforcement, it is about them and we are here to serve. So the next time you are dispatched to a call and you feel the need to rush, remember these four words, it's not about you. Darrell Burton has a master's degree in social work from e University of Mich- igan, and has worked with and served in law enforcement for more than 12 years. He is a regular presenter at ILEETA and other conferences around the country, and a use-of-force, physical training, and CIT instructor. Burton is the Police Academy Coordinator for South Bay Re- gional Public Safety in San Mateo CA. He can be reached at (510) 473-6529. TRAIN TO WIN Bring the best in law enforcement training to your agency: (630) 399-1645 Winning is much more than surviving conflict. Be completely prepared for your challenges with our inspiring and world-renowned classes with Dave "JD Buck Savage" Smith, Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, Sgt. Nancy Dowdy & team. CLASSES: The Winning Mind The Winning Mind for Women Career & Officer Survival for Dispatchers The Winning Edge Developing Successful Staff Skills Leadership for Optimal Performance THE WINNING EDGE The next time you are dispatched to a call about a mentally ill subject and you feel the need to rush, remember these four words, it's not about you.

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