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Police and Crisis Intervention – A Crisis in Itself

TASA ID: 321

On March 31, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. (ET), The TASA Group, in conjunction with law enforcement and safety expert Timothy Dimoff, presented a one-hour interactive webinar presentation, Police and Crisis Intervention – A Crisis in Itself, for all legal professionals. During this presentation, Tim Dimoff discussed:

  • Definitions of The Use of Force Continuum and how it is to be used when responding to active situations.
  • Various types of crisis situations that law enforcement encounters including mental illness, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, suicidal situations, autism, impairment, fear, and more.
  • Current training protocols for officers to understand and recognize the clues and behaviors of persons who may be in a mental health crisis vs. being mentally ill.
  • Proper officer responses to a person in crisis situation including risk assessment; determining potential threats; recognizing rage or anger vs. fright; recognizing and utilizing protocols for responding to dementia, cognitive impairment, delusions, paranoia, and more.
  • The debate of how defunding of police can affect the risks and potential harm to other first responders when responding to people in crisis situations.

About the Expert:

Timothy A. Dimoff, founder and president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities in high-risk workplace and human resource issues, security, vulnerability assessments and crime. As a consultant to law enforcement and the media, Timothy has been called upon to examine evidence from crime scenes and victim and witness reports to develop an offender profile. He has testified as an expert witness in many trials throughout the years.

Disclaimer: Please remember that if you are applying for CLE credit you must attend for the full 60 minutes of the LIVE presentation, not the ONDemand version. If a participant is seeking credit in states we are not approved to issue credit and the participating party seeking credit incurs a fee to receive said credit, it is not the obligation of TASA to remit payment for such credit. It is the participant's obligation to remit payment to the state in which they would like to receive credit


Najah: Good afternoon and welcome to today's presentation, "Police and Crisis Intervention -- A Crisis in Itself." The information presented by the expert is not to be used as legal advice and does not indicate a working relationship with the expert. All materials obtained from this presentation are merely for educational purposes and should not be used in a court of law, sans the expert's consent, i.e. a business relationship where she or he is hired for your particular case. In today's webinar, Tim Dimoff will discuss definitions of the use of force continuum and how it is to be used when responding to active situations. Various types of crisis situations that law enforcement encounters, including mental illness, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, suicidal situations, autism, impairment, fear, and more. Current training protocols for officers to understand and recognize the clues and behaviors of persons who may be in a mental health crisis versus being mentally ill.

Proper officer responses to a person in crisis situation, including risk assessment, determining potential threats, recognizing rage or anger versus fright, recognizing and utilizing protocols for responding to dementia, cognitive impairment, delusions, paranoia, and more. The debate of how defunding of police can affect the risks and potential harm to other first responders when responding to people in crisis situations. To give you a little background about our presenter, Tim Dimoff is the founder and president of SACS Consulting and Investigative Services, Inc., which is considered one of the nation's leading authorities in high-risk workplace and human resource issues, security, vulnerability assessment and crime. He is known as a speaker, trainer, investigator, and author and has appeared on national radio and television shows and major newspapers. Tim is a nationally recognized expert on violent behavior and criminal investigation, and has provided crime commentary and profiling analysis, and has appeared on shows such as MSNBC, CNN, and Court TV. His expertise includes high-risk and security issues, human resource issues, corporate investigations, liability issues from hiring to firing, drugs and substance abuse, identity theft, law enforcement procedures, and victim justice. He has testified as an expert witness in many trials throughout his career.

Attending to require a passcode, the word for today is CRISIS. During the Q&A session, we ask that you enter this passcode into the Q&A widget for CLE reporting purposes. The Q&A is located to the left of your screen. Please remember that if you are looking for credit, you have to be on your own computer, and for the full 60 minutes. You are also required to complete the survey at the end of the program. Please note that the CLE credit cannot be given to those watching together on a single computer. Tomorrow morning, I will send out an email with a link to the archive recording of the webinar. The slides can be downloaded from the resource list at the widget at the bottom of your screen. Thank you all for attending today. And Tim, the presentation is now turned over to you.

Tim: Thank you, Najah. And...

Najah: You're welcome.

Tim: One second here. You're gonna put the PowerPoint on of screen to me?

Najah: It is. You can't see it?

Tim: No.

Najah: You can't see the slide?

Tim: I got the small slides up top. I don't have the main slide in the main part of the center of the screen.

Najah: So can you click on, if you scroll down to your bar, and it says set up live view, you see live view, you wanna click on the live view, and then it'll put the screen in the middle.

Tim: There we go.

Najah: There you go. Perfect.

Tim: I appreciate it. Thank you.

Najah: Sure.

Tim: And, depending on where you are, good morning or good afternoon, and I appreciate you joining today. And as Najah has said, we will take questions during the session. So, you know, I prefer that if you got a question, you can put it in the chat and, I'll take a look at it and we'll get an answer to it. There may be a few questions that I will hold off on or may have to ask you to contact me directly on, but please put the questions in the chat and we'll keep going.

Ironically, what's going on now, which is the biggest story, and obviously law enforcement training and procedures right now, is the George Floyd case. And, George Floyd case has some very similarities. I'm doing commentary across the United States on this case as it goes day to day, week to week. And it may not be involving someone that technically has some mental or social or emotional challenges, but it is a good correlation of when you're dealing with any type of person, you know, whether they're challenged or not. Also, right now, law enforcement procedures are being looked at. The George Floyd case has a symmetry to this seminar because the question comes up, you have your use of force, you have your responses, they're acceptable and non-acceptable to police. So the question in the George Floyd case, is just like any other case when you're dealing with crisis, what is the proper response? Did the proper response take place? Was it proper? Was it in the guidelines of the police department? Is it acceptable? Did they go too far? Did they go too less? What were the alternatives? And we're gonna cover all of that. But once again, this case, the George Floyd case really, gives some great symmetry to that.

So we'll move on here. Police & Proper Crisis Intervention. Now, crisis intervention has come a long way for law enforcement. Years ago, there wasn't hardly any, if any, type of training for crisis intervention types of situations that the police would respond to. And the police were handling those that were mentally challenged, emotionally challenged, the same as they were someone else that did not have those situations or issues in their life. So really, we're talking about mental health crisis, and the simple definition is, an individual's normal coping mechanisms become overwhelmed, causing extreme emotional, physical, mental or behavior responses. What you're gonna see is when you're dealing with mental health, mental crisis type of situations, the officer needs to understand that the person is overreacting, they are overwhelmed or overstimulated or overscared. It is an extreme emotional and mental social behavior response. So once you understand that's what you're dealing with, it's a lot easier to start responding in a different way.

And when you have these cases, what you are looking at is the officer needs to articulate and have training for dealing with a situation and a person that is not the norm in their daily routines for responding to calls. Mental illness, impairment of an individual's normal, cognitive, emotional behavioral function, they do not and cannot think rationally. So you have to understand if they can't think rationally, we talk to them. And one says, "Well just talk to 'em rationally." And I said, "Well, what happens if they don't think rationally? Now what are you gonna do? How are you gonna approach that, you know?" So as you can see in the third bullet, you know, exercise is an adequate control over behavioral impulses. You know, have someone that takes unreasonable care of their welfare. So these are extremes and we have to understand that response. Once again, it's not the normal type of response, and they're dealing with a lot of what... There's a lot of things that will trigger them, that have already triggered them. Excuse me. When the officer responds, he is going to escalate or de-escalate when we're talking about mental illness. They're much more sensitive to quickly going up or down in the escalation of their emotional behavior and responses. So officers once again, need to understand that and they can and only can understand that through training, okay? And obviously through some experiences. But the training is to prepare them for those experiences, you know. Once again, the officer needs to understand the unique types of crisis incidents that can happen. And these instances are not easy to deal with, and they take a whole set of tools based on training and knowledge. Knowledge is the key in this situation. So...

Najah: Tim, Tim, I'm sorry to interrupt. Your phone is going in and out of sounding like garbled.

Tim: Okay, hang on.

Najah: I'm not sure what you...okay.

Tim: Is this any better? Is this any better?

Najah: Sorry. Yes. I had you on mute. Yes.

Tim: Okay. Sorry.

Najah: Thank you.

Tim: Thank you for telling me. Sorry, everybody. All right. Let me know if it gets garbled again and we'll switch phones if we have to.

Najah: Okay, thank you.

Tim: Yep. Anyway, Survey of Law Enforcement Personnel. Officers had something very interesting to show. I mean, 60% of the officers say that mental illness, mental health crisis makes up about 11% or more of their contacts with the public. Now, I wanna tell you that I spent 20 years in law enforcement. Now that's over 25 years ago. And back when I was an officer, that number would've been maybe 2%, 3% or more roughly of their contacts with the public there. So it was much lower. I don't know why it's higher. One of the reasons that I have been told that officers will have more contact with mental illness and mental health situation personnel, is because 20, 30, 40 years ago, quite honestly, a lot more people who did have mental illness or issues, they were confined to facilities to better control their environment and actually limit their environment.

Over the years, many of the people who would've normally, 30 years or 20 years ago been in a limited, confined environment, are now out in the general public. We are embracing them and wanting them to be able to engage and intermix with the general public. So that seems to be one of the major reasons that we've seen an increase. Obviously, the police, 99% say they've had interactions with people with mental health and challenges, you know. Now, officers need to be aware of now more than ever how they respond to these situations, you know. And there's options which we'll talk about. But they need to utilize a force when handling people in crisis situations. And there's several different ways to handle people in crisis situation. Many times it's not escalating your action, it's actually deescalating. It may also involve bringing other mental, social, experts in who are not law enforcement.

So we'll talk about some of those. You know, it is definitely different than handling people in our normal day-to-day responses as far as police go. And the police need to recognize the difference. Once again, supported by training and supported by policies and procedures. So when investigating or debating these cases, no matter which side you're on, some of the quick things that come to mind is, have these officers that were involved in this situation that now is in litigation, do they have, and have they had any training? What's the most current training that they've had? And then also, what is the written policies and procedures to the department that the department issues? And then lastly, what are some of the options that they have to get additional help or additional different responses to the mental ill crisis situations?

So, what do police deal with? Well, they deal with everyday danger, animosity, calls now that we've seen in the last year or so to defund the police, and they're being watched. Once again, I'll go back to George Floyd. I'll go back to other cases. You know, the police are really under the microscope on how they handle people in crisis. It can be a mental crisis, it can be some other type of crisis, but they're really being scrutinized. So when we break it down, here's a breakdown of the calls. You know, welfare checks have gone up tremendously in the last 10 years. Once again, why? It's because our mental health, our challenged citizens are living amongst us. They have been encouraged. We are setting up abilities for them to live within society. They're being monitored or assisted by different social agencies, but they are definitely more ingrained in our society. Therefore, we've seen a significant increase in welfare checks.

Suicide threats and attempts are always gonna be around depending on the situation. If we look back at Corona here, or I'm sorry, COVID, during the COVID we've had one of the highest suicide threat periods and suicide attempts and successes. So we've had suicide in all levels has increased significantly during the COVID period. It's not surprising, once again, going back to depression, anxieties and mental health issues. And during the COVID, mental-health challenged citizens, had an even harder time dealing and coping with restraints, you know, not being able to get out and mix amongst people, see their family, and I could go on. So we have seen not only suicides increase, but the health crisis types of citizens, also their suicides and attempts. And their angers and threats and confrontations with police has gone up. So you roughly get 10% assaults, assisting other safety forces, and of course. miscellaneous nuisance and disorderly.

You know, the big question as I have in red here is, can any of these turn into a crisis response? And the obvious answer is yes, and they definitely do. And they definitely are on the increase. That's why there's such a demand now for more crisis intervention training for law enforcement. They are typically dealing with more of these situations and citizens that have these mental challenges. So, once again, if you want the other breakdown of the other types of calls, you know, you got your misdemeanors to suspicious people. domestic disturbances, once again, domestic is up there, 23%. What do we see? We see in domestic disturbances. We do also see some mental illness, we can see a family member who might have some mental challenges. And it isn't necessarily that the police are responding just to say husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, but many times now they're responding to a family who is not able to control a sibling or a family member who has some challenges, who has some mental challenges or social challenges. And they're calling the police now and have been to come and do something about their son who has some mental challenges, their daughter, or someone that's visiting them. So we are seeing a lot more of that.

So the police are looked at as sort of the assumed person that's gonna solve the problem. Ironically, we get a lot of disturbances as law enforcement, and they actually tell the police officer, "I want you to take him or her away. Get him out of here. I don't want 'em staying here anymore." And now, you've got someone with a mental or emotional challenge, and they're listening to a parent or a friend or a family member saying they don't want 'em. And that only escalates or exacerbates their already disturbed status. So this type of thing is constantly taking place and increasing.

So what about when police confront individuals in crisis? Well, they gotta make some really sharp, judgment calls, immediate judgments about mental state and the intent. And they're sitting there and standing there trying to figure it out in a very fast manner. Well, in order to do the assessment and be accurate, police need some special skills beyond regular use of force of training. They need to know how to de-escalate situations with very defined priorities and options. And they need to go from there with these options. And they need to realize using force in many times is not the avenue to travel when dealing with the mental and emotionally challenged.

So as you can see here, what we're teaching law enforcement is not to escalate the force. The goal should be to use as little force as possible. So when you're on either side of these cases, you really need to be looking at the level of force that is used for the situation or the type of person or situation that's going on. A lot of times if police escalate the use of force, it only increases the resistance and the emotional outbreak of that individual. So we need to outline appropriate levels of force for different situations. Not all situations work the same. You know, in many use of force continuums and people and training, a lot of them don't even address mental health responses. And we need to see mental health responses as part of the options to the police officer when they confront somebody in a situation. They need to be as able to assess, is this a normal type of call for police or is there something else going on here? Is there an individual here that is not in control of themselves mentally and emotionally or in other ways? So once again, we need to have more of a response's options for mental health responses.

Crisis Response from Law Enforcement. Well, let's talk about some options. First thing is, that I've always trained police officers on is when you approach the individual, use some deescalation techniques right off the bat. And this goes even for non-mental, non-emotionally upcharged or mentally ill or challenged individuals. Think about what you can do. That officer needs to think about, how can I de-escalate the situation and, you know, not escalate it, de-escalate it. And a lot of times we're teaching officers now, body language, body distance. You start getting close to people that are very highly emotional, mentally, emotionally challenged, it can make them more uncomfortable.

So one of the simple techniques is de-escalation is, you know, step back a few feet. When you first approach a situation, don't get real close. Don't keep coming towards them. Stay at a distance. Take a couple steps to the sides or back. Give them a time to cool off. These are things that officers need to be asked in these cases. And if the officer just knocks on the door, goes in the home and gets in their face, then that is not gonna end up in being a good technique. And it's not a de-escalation, obviously it's only gonna make you go in the wrong direction. We have options, you can talk to the person and say, "Hey, we're not here to arrest you. We're not here to cause you problems. I would be glad to give you a ride to somebody that could talk to you and help you." You'd be surprised how many people in the crisis situation need to hear and when they do hear, they're not being arrested, they're not going to jail. And police officers need to remember too, the badge, the uniform, it really disturbs or scares many, many people in a mental health crisis situation. So you need to talk to 'em, talk to 'em from a distance, and get them to be calm about you.

This is all the questions or some of the questions that you should be asking police officers and non-police officers about the situations that happened. You really need to understand what they do as soon as they stepped out of the cruiser and approached the individual or individuals, you know. Now, many departments or cities, once an officer finds out that they're dealing with someone who is mentally or emotionally challenged, many times there'll be other family members or friends there that will tell the officer, "Tim here, you know, is dealing with some mental issues. He's on medication and he has refused to take it the last three days." Right there tells you what you're doing. This information is important to have as a police officer and as a legal counsel, either defending or not defending that police officer. One really good thing that can happen, it's a great option, is asking the individual if they'll go home or be with or spend time with, or stay with a family or a friend, okay? And many times since they're familiar with that person, it is an answer of answers. And also later on, police can help individuals pursue a civil commitment order to help that person get some help. Once again, these type of options, these are the questions that need to be asked to that officer or officers in that situation.

This next slide. It's not safe to assume a social worker will be safe without law enforcement. You know, officers should not say, "Oh, well here's the social worker and Betty's gonna stay with you and we're gonna move on to our next call." Not a good idea. If an officer abandons or leaves that social worker alone there, it's, in my opinion, is not a good move. Now, I think that officer needs to hang around, be in the distance, can even be outside versus inside, whatever. But that officer needs to be able to respond until that social worker feels comfortable and the social worker then tells the officer, "I'll be okay," or "I'm all right," you know. So between every officer and social worker, when a social worker shows up, so the officer should never leave until the social worker says that it's okay or that the social worker leaves when the officer leaves. Believe me, all you gotta do is ask a social worker and they will gladly tell you, "Please stick around or this or that and I'll let you know." We've had numerous cases where a social worker got severely injured, beaten, robbed, because police left very soon or almost immediately after they got there and now that social worker is one-on-one with this subject that is not mentally stable and may not have taken their medication, is emotionally fired up.

So once again, in examining these cases, did you use a social worker? What did that social worker do and say? And did you abandon or leave that social worker without first getting permission or the social worker felt comfortable about it? So, very real threat of violence obviously requires law enforcement presence at every incident. We absolutely need you there. And just the fact that the social worker is interacting with the person who's in a crisis, and they know that the police are right there or in the next room or standing a little distance away, that's another de-escalation process that can help the social worker communicate and get compliance, hopefully from the person going through the mental crisis.

I got a question. Are most officers equipped with tasers to stun a person in crisis? And how effective is it? Very good question. First off, we have seen where people with mental and emotional challenges who do get stunned, do have a strong response, adrenaline response, and in more cases than say a normal call with a taser, they seem to be able to continue to react in a violent way. But do the tasers work? Yes, they do. But I do wanna caution that people with mental illnesses who are also on medications, a lot of times they don't feel the full effect of the tasers. So the tasers basically are not always as effective in a mental crisis situation as in normal situations. Also, understand tasers can escalate the emotional and adrenaline flow of that individual in a crisis, and therefore, it could exacerbate the situation, you know, and go from there.

I think I have another question here. Why do you refer to the matter of the George Floyd case rather than the Derek Chauvin case? I think you're totally right. I could refer to it either way. And Mr. Floyd is a victim and he's not on trial, and I totally agree with that and apologize if it came across in a different way. My reason for referring to that case is that when I say Derek, or I'm sorry, Mr. Floyd, George Floyd, everybody automatically, I think knows the case stronger, unfortunately. But you're right, it could be referred to either way. And I don't believe Derek Chauvin reacted to that situation in a proper manner. And this case is going on now. And the big debate, and I won't get into it, but is gonna be, you know, whether Derek Chauvin, you know, was responsible for the death of George Floyd. And whether he is found guilty of murder or not, there are other charges that he definitely could and should be charged with, in my opinion. But I apologize if that was taken in the wrong way.

Question, why don't the percentages of 911 calls add up to a hundred percent? Reason for that is, there's some other miscellaneous type of cases, and they're not all covered in some of these surveys. And what they're looking for is they're looking for a basic breakdown. And those statistics are not from me, they're from the National Institute of Justice, FBI and law enforcement, national law enforcement, chiefs of police and different organizations that try to get police departments to bring the statistics to them. Good questions. Please keep the questions coming. Love to give you some answers and let's move on from here.

Sixty percent of officers say the ability to get specialized resources on the scene more quickly would help them feel better equipped to deal with people in crisis. The biggest, one of the biggest, if not the biggest requests we get from law enforcement officers is, can we have somebody we can call that is better equipped to deal with people in crisis? And that's always been a big demand and request by officers across the country. They'll even say, we're really not fully equipped to deal with these situations. That is one reason, especially in the last five years, seven years, a lot more emphasis has been put on officers to respond to these calls, and they've definitely increased. And also, officers are getting more of these calls, obviously, and officers are asking and requesting for more training. But on the other end, officers would feel really good if they could call specialized resources.

Now, what some of the departments are doing is they're taking a handful of their officers and they're giving them advanced training in dealing with crisis. So X amount of officers per shift have this specialized training. They work with these agencies in their locations, and they become very astute at working with the agencies and in how to deal with and de-escalate individuals in crisis situations. So what we're going to is more and more is training a handful of officers per department who specialize in dealing with these and who can be called, because those officers can get to that scene or situation much faster than a social worker can. We're also seeing across the country, social agencies are working with police departments and providing people that can respond. The only drawback to that is it might take a little bit longer. And so therefore, what we're training or hoping to do is to train the officers to really de-escalate or retreat to a situation where they don't have to confront the individual where they're more in the background. They may say a few things to the individual and say, "Hey, I'm gonna get somebody here that you can talk to or can help you maybe. We're just gonna sit back here. We're not gonna bother you." You know, all this de-escalation, you know, and diffusing verbiage, which, you know, can be very helpful. So we're teaching officers, if they do have sources they can go to, to back down, to retreat, to de-escalate, to diffuse, and hopefully by time until that trained officer or trained social worker can get to the scene.

So, mental health crisis symptoms obviously that the police must deal with are these. And as I said before, the big one is the emotional reactions. Lots of fear and anger can happen, you know, and then obviously psychological impairments, you know, an inability, to focus, confusion, nightmares. A lot of these individuals get very confused, at the same time, they're scared, they're angry, they're confused. They might look at the police as a monster. They could start to have physical reactions, getting sick and headaches. And then they can do extreme things such as freeze, sit or stand or lay down somewhere and refuse to move, you know. And of course, they could fight, you know, and that's why we want to be careful that we don't overcrowd them when we're trying to determine how we can help them. And we're talking to 'em. One of the things we teach is a lot of distance really can help all these things that are listed there.

I have another couple questions here. Let's see... Several questions. Let me go back up. Okay. What are the most effective means of restraining a person in crisis without using a gun? Well, we're definitely teaching not to use a gun. It would be a rarity that a gun would be used only if the individual had a gun and started shooting at these officers or started pointing at the officers, and even then, officers really are hesitant. I know we talked about a taser, and a taser is usable and can work in many cases. And with the taser, we do train that if you use a taser on someone with mental health, and it doesn't settle them down, we're not teaching to keep tasing them and keep escalating. So it can be a taser initially to see if it has to be. They have new weapons or tools I should say that are coming out. They have these guns that shoot a rope that wraps around a person's legs and other types of nonlethal type of weapons, so that can help. And really, the most effective means to helping the situation is not escalating it and being careful how you approach and what you say to these people. But at different times, you know, some physical confrontations happen. One of the other things is if we can have several officers there and we're able to restrain the individual, such as we're able to get 2, 3, 4 officers and be able to get the individual down on the ground and handcuff them so that they can't hurt themselves or others. So a lot of those different things can be... But once again, I wanna stress a lot of it comes down into that verbal initial situation.

I had another question here. Let's see here. Okay. Would a police dog be helpful for the police officer's safety in a crisis? For the most part, canines are not utilized when we're dealing with mental crisis situations. Unless it was an extreme situation where an individual had a knife and was attempting to stab or cut or attack people, the dog might be utilized in that to take the individual down so that they drop the knife, etc. But once again, the canines are not the norm. They would be the exception to the exception and go from there.

Question, would that be, what I'm talking about equivalent as a mental SWAT team? I think it would be, yes, the equivalent of a crisis response team. I wouldn't call it a mental SWAT team just from a terminology, but a crisis response team, which would be a crisis response SWAT team in clarity. Yeah. And what we have is we're seeing more and more departments successfully put these teams together, and these teams are very good at dealing with the mental crisis situations. So I think that's a good thing to do is to give it a formal name, I kinda like that.

Can you please comment on the move to defund police departments in the midst of increasing crime rates and an increase in mental health crisis. Well, you know, everybody obviously, is entitled to their opinion and I'll just say, I always start all discussions with, let's agree it's okay to disagree. You may not agree with me and you may agree with parts, but let's at least agree that we can disagree and have further discussion and include the betterment of what we're talking about. So basically, on the defunding of police departments, I personally do not think defunding is the answer. I think the answer is steering more money for police departments towards more training and more specialization. And I think it's towards steering more of the money for police departments towards working, communicating and establishing working relationships with different organizations in the neighborhoods of the city or the township or village or wherever in your community. And I think steering the money towards training of the officers, getting 'em better training, and also getting officers to be able to engage the different agencies, minority agencies within the community and bridge that communication gap and bridge the gap to work with each other and not against each other. And I think taking money away is not the answer. Using the money more smart and in a broader way, that's the answer. I also think the word defunding has a terrible negative connotation. So re-appropriation of money, seeing where the dangers are, or where the weaknesses are with the community and the police department and the police department's relationship with the community, and then emphasize training, communication and coming together in those areas. And I'll tell you it would go a lot further and be a lot more positive.

Okay. What are officers supposed to do when they restrain a person and handcuff them and the person says they cannot breathe? When you have a person, and I don't wanna center this just on the case that's going on, but when you have a person that's being restrained and you have 'em down, you know, on the ground, you have other officers there, you have them handcuffed, you have it basically under control. I obviously think someone that complains that they can't breathe, I think you have to afford them the opportunity to breathe, whether it's, you know, taking a restraint off of their chest, neck, whatever, rolling 'em over on their side so they can breathe. And if you have to, give first aid. Also remember, in a lot of these situations, unfortunately, we have criminals or people under arrest that fabricate their situation so that they can have an opportunity to attack the officers. So it's a double-edged sword, but basically you get that person restrained, you got 'em handcuffed. I think once again, the answer is you can roll 'em over because now you've got their hands restricted and I think you can investigate further if they do need some type of medical aid and you can give it to 'em. So I think all of that speaks for itself, you know.

Are the de-escalation techniques the same for a facility such as a jail versus someone's home or hospital? Or are the techniques different based on the location of the issues? Well, they all do very differently because are you dealing with one person, multiple people? Are there weapons within the vicinity? Is it the officer alone or are there other officers? What is the physical size and nature of the person? Is the person high on drugs, drunk, totally losing it, suicidal, threatening? So really what the situation is, it's always different based on the officers' capabilities and numbers, the persons and the other people and all the other factors like are there weapons around or other different things.

So an officer has to use discretion. You know, in a hospital setting it might be different than in a home. One officer in a home versus two officers in a home changes the situation. One officer or two officers fighting someone that's 6 foot 6, 250 pounds versus 110 pounds. Not that neither can't hurt the officer, but those type of factors have to be taken in and they are taken into consideration with all these situations. Same thing with people on mental health crisis. Are you trying to control someone that's small or someone that's big? And don't get me wrong, I've worked on law enforcement for 20 years. I've had some real struggles with people that are under, little over or under a hundred pounds versus someone that was bigger. So depends on the situation. People can experience a mental health crisis reaction regardless of their previous history. That is true, understand, it doesn't mean just someone that had a mental health crisis before are the only ones that are gonna, you know, have a reaction.

So you look for behaviors of potential violence, danger to themselves, mental health, emotional disturbances, could be drugs or alcohol, substance abuse, you know, other type of medical conditions. And an officer needs to be cognizant of what that person is suggesting, how they're talking and acting, what's maybe physically around. And lots of times other people in the house or with them on the street will say, "Hey, he's under medication, he hasn't taken his medication. He gets very angry." I had a situation where I approached someone and this person standing next to him said, "Officer, don't come any closer. He's very scared of anybody with a badge." And so therefore, we backed up and we took our badges off our shirts and put 'em in our pocket because the badge is where this person had their focus. And just that one thing that we did, did kind of help, you know? So you never know what you can do.

Assess the situation. What's the environment? You know, where's the risk of sudden behavior changes? And once again, distance and physical messages from officers, other people standing around and the individual in question. We've had innocent bystanders who heard this person yelling and screaming, and the police show up and the bystanders start getting close to this individual, which causes that person to escalate. So you have to be careful. It's not just you, it's people around. I've had situations where I personally was called to a case on a mental health situation, and the person was very nervous and I asked him, "What's making you nervous?" And he said, "All these people, all these people." And they just kept repeating that. And I said, "Well, let's walk around to the backyard, and me, you and this other officer, and we'll leave everybody here in the front yard. Would that help?" And the person reacted and said, "Oh yeah, that would be good. I would appreciate that." So it's those kind of things, it's that kind of questions. What was the officer's options? Did they think of any options? Were they trying to come up with any options?

Officer Training. You gotta recognize clues. As we said before, fear, frustration, dementia, delusions. They'll start talking and telling you things that they're seeing that don't exist. They will verbally tell you exactly how they feel in many cases. What about the ones that feel invincible and tell you, "Come shoot me, kill me." How does the officer deal with that? And they're trained to say, "I don't wanna hurt you. I have no desire." You know, there's no reason to start working on their self-esteem. They call that a self-esteem type of de-escalation. Once again, escalation, de-escalation, important in all of these.

So, Resolving Conflict Safely. Once again, dispersing crowds. We've had situations where lights, a lot of times sirens and the flashing lights bother 'em. Many times we will go or train officers to go to scenes with mental illness or mental challenge and not use their lights and sirens. Once again, you see the distance, create distance, communication, rapport with them is important, you know. Always request backup and assistance for special crisis. Intervention teams are a must, you know, and get all the help you can, you know?

I have a question. Are there behaviors that differ from mental illness and substance abuse intoxication? Absolutely. Mental illness and emotional illness can be different than substance abuse or intoxication, but the substance abuse or intoxication can cause some of the similar reactions such as delusion, paranoia, imagining things. So sometimes they're very similar and overlap, but mental illness, a lot of times you will see other types of situations that they will display. Both of 'em call for use of de-escalation, watch what you say and do, watch your body language from there.

Now, Court Determination on the Mental Health. This is important when these cases do go to court. Did the officers involved have a basic knowledge and understanding of mental health? Did the officers involved in mental health crisis response, did they have training? These are the things that you're going to bring up, defend or bring up against the officers. Did they have the knowledge? Did they have the training? Did they have access to request other mental health services or the mental health SWAT team? Did they attempt to use de-escalation? They did. What did they do? What did they say? What did they physically do? What about alternative options? These are the key to these court cases. So, law enforcement officers are increasingly being called to judge mental illness in a split second. And it is stressful and it is dangerous.

I have another question I believe here. Okay. What is the difference in responsibility, liability between escalating the problem in the response versus deescalating the problem by ignoring and not responding? For example, is the state of law such that not responding does not create liability, but once a response occurs, the duty and liability encompassing the officer and department now attaches, suicidal. Bottom line is, an officer has a duty to try to attempt to come to a difference in...the officer has a duty to address the issue or attempt to address the issue. They may not be perfect in their response, but absolutely coming and seeing someone in a crisis situation who might be threatening to hurt themselves or others and walking away from it is not going to be a proper response. So it comes down to the background, the training, the ability to call options, that's a departmental liability. And then the individual liability, which goes through the officer to the department is how they react to the individual situation. So just doing nothing is not the answer. Attempting to do something and it may not go exactly the way you want, is a lot better than doing nothing. So you have to look at the difference. Today's law enforcement, gotta have the knowledge and training to respond and successfully engage crisis.

So I think that's it on my slides. And what I wanna stress is this is a whole different ballgame dealing with mental health crisis situations. Departments must and should have a policy in writing. Training. They must have more than just, you know, a slight training. It must be a training that deals with these issues. The extras is having response teams, working with communities, working with social agencies, really putting more time, effort, and money in understanding and being able to successfully deal with the mental health crisis.

So I'll stop there. And I don't know if I have any last questions. We're just about out of time. I want to tell everybody, you're more than welcome to email me or call me, and I would answer further questions and help you, you know, if you have some details or your cases or whatever as part of the TASA program. I extend my assistance as a support for you supporting and being part of TASA. I'll stop there, Najah.

Najah: Okay. Thanks Tim. If everyone could type in the passcode, the passcode is CRISIS. Tim, you do have a few more questions which, actually a bunch, but I will give you one question right now. Are domestic disputes one of the most dangerous situations for a police officer?

Tim: By far, domestic disputes have been and still are the most dangerous situation. You're going into somebody's home, their castle, their declared place that they own and control, and now you're going into their home and you're telling them what they're going to do. And there's just lots of other problems in the home as far as aggression and all the weapons that are there. And the familiarity of the person to that facility or location versus the officer has no clue. Yes, definitely the most dangerous.

Najah: Okay. So the other questions that you all asked, I will send them over to Mr. Dimoff and he will be able to respond to you personally. I wanted to take this time to thank Tim Dimoff for his presentation and if anyone needs to speak with Tim, like he said, you can email him, you can call me, email me. I will be sending the recording of the presentation out to you tomorrow morning. And if you all have any questions or anything, feel free to contact me. Another thing would be that if you don't by chance get the survey that pops up when I end this presentation, just let me know, send me an email and I'll send you the evaluation form so that I can send out your certificate. So thank you all for attending and thank you, Tim, for your presentation. Have a good day everyone.

Tim: Have a good day everyone.

Najah: Bye-bye.

Tim: Bye.

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