How officers step in when a person is armed and suicidal
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Jan. 23, 2013
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - During a nine-hour SWAT standoff at a midtown home, the Tucson Police Department was concerned for the safety of officers, neighbors and the man who’d barricaded himself inside the home. Like in three other cases in less than a week, officers were dealing with a suicidal person. That’s a scenario some are specially trained to handle.
Police swarmed the home Wednesday on Blacklidge Drive between Park and Mountain. They wanted to take a 35-year-old man to a hospital for a mental evaluation that a judge ordered. His family told police he was armed and suicidal. The standoff ended peacefully.
Last week, on the east side, there was a similar situation with a different outcome. Investigators say a suicidal man reached for his handgun and an officer shot him. He died.
Pima County SWAT arrived at the scene of another suicidal man last week. He took his own life.
These are intense situations that a number of officers are specially trained to handle.
“The way that we treat this is we try to send officers out who know how to speak to these people with their 'crisis intervention training,'” said Sgt. Chris Widmer, “and bring them down -- maybe decrease their level of anxiety, decrease their stress level.”
Widmer explained the priority is keeping officers and neighbors safe but also protecting the person in distress. Some situations -- like cases known as “suicide by cop” -- make that especially difficult.
KGUN9 News reporter Kevin Keen asked Widmer, “Is someone potentially wanting to be shot by police a real concern?” “It's definitely,” the department spokesman answered, “especially if they make that clear to us from the get go.”
Widmer said officers will try to "isolate" the person then "talk them down."
He said negotiators did that Wednesday morning and it ended peacefully.
The Tucson Police Department is not recommending charges against the man at this time so the department won't give out his name.