Response policy for law enforcement
A written policy helps officers determine the proper procedure when encountering an individual with mental illness in different scenarios.
For a sample related to this intervention, see this resource:
Dane County, WI Madison Police Department
- The Madison Police Department has developed standard operating procedures to provide guidance for officers when they are responding to and serving people with mental illnesses.
For samples related to this example, see these resources:
- Standard Operating Procedure: for Mental Health Incidents/Crises, City of Madison Police Department
- Standard Operating Procedure: Response to Persons with Altered State of Mind, City of Madison Police Department
For more information about this example, see these resources:
Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles Police Department
- The Los Angeles Police Department provides officers with guidance in the appropriate use of tactical disengagement: an officer’s decision to leave, delay contact, delay custody, or plan to make contact at a different time and under different circumstances.
- First responders may choose to strategically disengage to avoid resorting to force when the danger to the subject by self-harm is no longer imminent, and the subject has not committed a serious or violent crime.
- Under the appropriate circumstances, tactical disengagement may improve officer safety, mitigate threats, reduce injuries, build public trust, and preserve life.
- The Los Angeles Police Department provides guidelines for officers on encounters with a person in the clinical state of excited delirium.
- Excited delirium (also called “agitated delirium”) is a medical emergency characterized by an acute onset of extreme agitation and bizarre and/or combative behavior that may present a serious threat to the public, to officers, and to themselves (as it may result in sudden death).
- The department’s guidelines for addressing these challenges are consistent with its overarching principle of reverence for human life.
- When an individual exhibits signs of excited delirium, a rescue ambulance shall be requested as soon as practicable to provide the needed emergency medical treatment.
Tactical De-escalation Techniques
- The Los Angeles Police Department uses Planning, Assessment, Time, Redeployment and/or Containment, Other Resources, Lines of Communication (PATROL) as a de-escalation technique.
- This technique does not require that an officer compromise his or her safety or increase the risk of physical harm to the public.
- PATROL involves reducing the intensity of an encounter with a person suspected of a crime, having additional options to gain voluntary compliance, and mitigating the need to use a higher level of force while maintaining control of the situation.
- The overall objective of any tactical encounter is to safely resolve the situation.
Weapons Other Than Firearms
- Officers receive guidance about their options during encounters with people who are armed with weapons other than a firearm, including edged weapons and blunt weapons.
- Edged weapons include any object capable of cutting, slashing, or stabbing. A blunt weapon is any object that can be used to strike a person and inflict serious bodily injury or death.
- Resolving the situation safely using de-escalation techniques and proper planning should be the primary objectives for officers dealing with people who are armed with weapons other than firearms.
- The dynamic nature of most incidents will require tactical plans to be flexible, and officers need to adapt their plan as additional information or factors become known.
For more information on this example, see these resources:
Policy & Practice
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Last updated: April 21, 2019