MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Police successfully took a man into custody after they said he barricaded himself in his apartment armed with a gun. Officers credit the success to their mental health crisis training. 

The newly learned techniques came in handy when officers were called to the 200 block of Nake Lane Wednesday, Aug. 10. A SWAT team was deployed after a man threatened “shoot everyone including officers” during the standoff.

This incident was the first time police deployed their newly acquired techniques, which were learned through a partnership between the Mobile Police Department and AltaPointe’s Behavioral Health Crisis Center. Dr. Cindy Gipson, associate director of AltaPointe Health Crisis Services, explained how officers use mental health intervention and de-escalation techniques to safely bring suspects into custody. 

“We teach the officers what mental illness looks like and how to manage the call by knowing what to say and what to do,” said Gipson. “Officers learn how to intervene because, in some incidents, the person may be a danger to themselves or others.”

When the city’s SWAT team was deployed on scene, officers were made aware that the suspect suffered from mental illness. Pulling from their training, officers used tactics to de-escalate the situation to safely take the man into custody. 

Without this training, crisis situations can turn dangerous. Brittney Grier, a Georgia woman, died after falling out of a patrol vehicle. The 28-year-old was having a schizophrenic episode when she was taken into custody. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump cites a lack of knowledge among law enforcement when dealing with those who are experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Public Safety Director Laurence Batiste recognizes that for Mobile Police to safely interact with suspects who have a mental illness, proper training is needed.

“The crime committed, and the mental health capacity of the individual taken into custody must be treated separately,” said Battiste. “The arrest will not resolve the problem if the person is mentally unstable.” 

With their first success, the department is already seeing the payoff of their new mental health crisis training.

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