Colorado Springs Law Enforcement Officers Learn to Interact with Mentally Ill People Without Force

By Kaitlin Durbin |

This article has been re-shared from it’s original source, 


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette) – No one would have criticized El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean Peruzzi if he would have used force to restrain a ranting woman as she flung her large lunch box around what was supposed to be the setting of an employee break room.

He was trying to reason with the stranger, who said she’d stopped taking her anti-psychotic medications, but law enforcement is busy and she was getting aggressive. He could have ended the situation right then by forcefully removing her from the area, the police supervisor at Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) said.

But Peruzzi didn’t.

He stayed calm. He kept talking. He, wrongly, made promises law enforcement may not have been able to keep in the end, the supervisor critiqued, but he let her have her say to resolve the issue without arrest.

“You have to balance that safety versus letting her vent,” the supervisor said.

All was part of role-playing with paid actors to teach officers how to use words to deescalate crisis calls, rather than force.

Unless the person is a clear danger to themselves or others, and if they’re not committing a crime, officers have no reason to use force against that person, even if their actions are making others feel uncomfortable, Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Eric Frederic said.

And even if the person is threatening to kill themselves, that’s not illegal, Frederic said. All officers can do is try to calm the person enough to think rationally, and let them know what help is available, he said.