VIDEO:: Fort Collins Police Integrate Mental Illness Training with Use of Force Training

Goal is to resolve situations peacefully.

12:31 AM, Jan 14, 2016

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – When a man pulled a knife outside a Fort Collins coffee shop on Tuesday, police were ready to use a pepper gun, if necessary.  Instead, they were able to talk the suspect into dropping his knife.

“It’s a challenge for officers,” said Kate Kimble, public relations manager for Fort Collins Police Services. “We deal with mentally ill citizens on a regular basis.”

Kimble told Denver7 that the department’s psychologist teaches officers how to deal with citizens who are coping with substance abuse issues and mental health issues.

“We do have mentally ill citizens who may become violent,” she said. “It’s important to have some tactics in mind to deal with them, and ideally resolve the situation peacefully.”

That training paid off when a man brandished a knife outside the Alley Cat Coffee House.

“At first he was just pacing back and forth, talking to himself,” said Sara Green, an employee at the nearby Dam Good Tacos, “then he brought the knife out and it became more serious.”

Green said that’s when someone in the business upstairs called and told her to lock the doors, so she did.

“The cops came.  I saw they had really big guns, which is also scary to see,” she said, “but it wasn’t loud.”

Kimble said the officers try to build relationships with the people they’re policing.

“We’ve got people we deal with frequently,” she said. “They know the officers, so there is no sense of surprise.”