Dealing with the mentally ill

Traffic Control

Tonight I was dispatched to a call involving a man who was yelling and kicking cars in a parking lot. I arrived a short time after the first cop got there. When I arrived, I saw a man on his knees  in the parking lot as the officer spoke to him with a  calm voice.

His shoes were off and he was yelling about God and Heaven. While he was on his knees he’d lean forward on his hands and make quick movements that made him unpredictable. It looked like he was going to tackle you at any moment. He also said, “Kill me.”

The other officer got his name and tried to get a phone number for someone who knew him so we could try and help him. He only gave us his name and birth date.

The time finally came for me to pat him down for weapons. Yes, he was mentally ill, but we needed to make sure there were no weapons, especially after the call for service and the behavior we saw.

I knew he needed to hear clear instructions because of his mental state. I told him to put his hands behind his back because I was going to pat him down for weapons.

He turned his head with a serious look and said, “What if I don’t want to?” His voice was something out of a horror movie.

He might’ve been crazy, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew enough to process what I said and what his answer was going to be.

I moved from behind him and said, “Look at me.”

The man, who was in his 50s, looked up at me. He stopped momentarily from picking imaginary bugs off of his body. I knew he wasn’t processing information normally, so I spoke slowly and firmly to him.

I told him I was there to help, but I needed him to cooperate. I also said, “I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to fight.” I let that sink in for a moment before I said, “Can you put your hands behind your back for me and help me out?”

He  listened and nodded his hand. I grabbed his hands from behind and stood him up. I told him not to move and started the pat down. He turned to his left and I firmly said, “Stop moving.”

I held onto his hands like he was going to turn and fight at any moment. After I was done with his left side, I switched hands and checked his right side. Once that was done I let go and he went back down to his knees and continued what he was doing before.

I was lucky he listened. He was eventually transported to the hospital for a mental evaluation.

I didn’t do anything special. I just did the same thing thousands of cops did Monday. I dealt with a mentally ill man who could go off at any moment. A fight with him would’ve been a code 3 response for help and injury to us.

No one wants to deal with a mentally ill person who can attack you at any moment, but that’s part of the job. We do it because someone called 911. We go toward the craziness when other people head the other way.

Anyone who wears the badge knows what I’m talking about. Be safe out there.

2 thoughts on “Dealing with the mentally ill

  1. Excellent explanation of the how, why and when for both you and that person. Too many times we (police) do a crappy job explaining why we do what we do and how to others and more importantly newer officers. This is why I’m a instructor. Great blog, as usual.

    Like

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