Julie Humphreys, 509.625.5868
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 4:21 p.m.
SPD officer calmly talks down a suicidal/delusional man and gets him the help he needs even after the man assaulted the officer
On March 4th, 2021 at approximately 3:30pm, SPD responded to a man in crisis at an apartment complex for individuals experiencing homelessness, on State Street in Spokane. Detectives were on scene on an unrelated matter when the man contacted them about jumping off the Monroe Street Bridge. When officers arrived, the man’s self-harm talk elevated with him saying he wanted officers to kill him by throwing him off the bridge or shooting him. Additionally, the man spoke of a bad man who was after him and made statements about not wanting to be around anymore. The man was recently released from Eastern State Hospital.
Downtown Precinct Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO) Richie Plunkett exercised extreme patience in listening to the man and letting him know officers were there to help him, even as the man paced the room. Officer Plunkett repeatedly asked the man if he wanted to go to the hospital or to a behavioral health clinic. Eventually the man lunged at Officer Plunkett, punching him and prompting officers to move in and quickly handcuff the man without incident. Officer Plunkett elected not to charge the man with assault, instead continuing to talk to him calmly and get him to a hospital. SPD officers connected with the Regional Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) for assistance from mental health clinicians and follow-up care and services for the man.
We have included body worn camera video of this incident as it shows the compassionate response to, and de-escalation of, an individual in crisis. SPD responds to dozens of calls similar to this one every day. Police officers are increasingly called to deal with people experiencing mental health issues and/or who have substance abuse issues. All officers with SPD, even those outside of specialty units like the BHU are trained to handle mental health crisis situations, such as described here, with training including motivational interviewing and crisis resolution. SPD is recognized as a leader in the state for training around mental health response with all officers receiving 40 hours of crisis intervention training (CIT) and continued CIT training throughout the year.