The Negotiator Magazine

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The LASO Study found 78% of the weapons used by VPH subjects were fully loaded and operational weapons.    Police have a “helper mode” and generally see suicidal persons as people to be helped or saved.    Police under-estimate the danger the suspect presents and often place themselves in poor tactical position in an effort to “help” the person.   Cops have been known to take a gun or knife from the hand of a suicidal individual.  Would you do this with a murder suspect?    (Pamela’s handgun is later found to be fully loaded)

41% of VPH are having major family problems at the time of their deaths.    The loss of social support is a contributing factor to the stress that drives a person to suicidal ideations.   This becomes especially true when a person has attempted suicide in the past.  Prior suicide attempts become a conditional response to life’s stressors.   Also persons with a history of assaultive behavior are more predisposed to violent outbursts. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  (Pamela was having marital problems and did not think her husband loved her) 

Attempts to help the suicidal person may be viewed as an annoyance, especially if there is no connection between the suspect and negotiator.   This situation may cause the suspect to go forward with his destructive behavior to escape the “annoying” police officers.    Repeatedly asking, “put down the gun, put down the gun,” is unproductive if not complied with on the initial request.     Move onto other topics and occasionally come back to the relinquishing the weapon directive.

All suicide attempts should be viewed as dangerous situations.    A suicidal person can become homicidal instantaneously.    Law Enforcement has no legal obligation to intervene in suicide attempts (Adams vs. Freemont).    Sometimes doing nothing is the safest option.     No Deputy Sheriff should feel compelled to place themselves in a dangerous position to save a suicidal person.   All suicides in progress are homicides looking for a victim.

 


Russ Moore has been with the San Diego Sheriff Department for over 26 years.    He currently holds the rank of Sergeant and is assigned to Investigations.     During his career Russ has been assigned to Detentions, Patrol, K-9, SWAT, Scuba Diving, and Investigations.    He has been assigned to The Crisis Negotiations Team for 16 years and has been involved in over 200 incidents.    Russ holds a MS in Forensic Science and is a POST Master Instructor (Thesis project- Responding to Suicides in Progress).  Russ can be contacted at rmoore754@cox.net 

 

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September 2006