Milwaukie police lauded for successful response to man in mental health crisis
By Raymond Rendleman,2023-06-08
Three Milwaukie officers received commendations from a Clackamas County Sheriff’s lieutenant for their commitment to crisis negotiation training, which led to their recent ability to successfully defuse what could have been a potentially lethal situation.
Milwaukie Officer Melisa Campos, Detective Kathryn Meier and Officer Brian Smith are on call 24/7 throughout Clackamas County serving on the interagency Crisis Negotiations Team. Crisis team members train monthly and work closely with Clackamas County’s SWAT members with the mission to preserve lives and deescalate volatile situations.
On May 23, crisis team members responded to the report of a man threatening to jump from a second-story apartment window. He was armed with a shard of glass, which he was using to self-harm at the location on Fuller Road, just east of Milwaukie city limits. Campos, with the help of Smith and Meier, engaged the subject for over three hours. CCSO Lt. Nate Hulsey said that using their training and experience, specifically in the field of crisis intervention, they convinced the man to drop the weapon.
“Their training, experience and knowledge of crisis negotiations led to the safe resolution of this incident,” Hulsey said.
Reportedly under the influence of methamphetamines, the suicidal man broke out a third-story window of the apartment he was living in. According to the police report, he ended up sitting in the now-broken window opening, using a piece of the broken window to cut at his own throat.
CCSO initially responded at 1 a.m. and found that the suicidal man was not compliant with any of their requests. Deputies then decided to back out of the scene in hopes that he would ultimately come down off of the drugs, so police could return to render aid.
At about 6:30 a.m. a neighbor informed CCSO Sgt. Sean Collinson that the suicidal man was asking for help. Deputies returned to the location, but the man remained seated in the third-floor window opening, puncturing his own neck with broken glass. His shirt was drenched with drying blood, and he still refused to comply with any requests to come down out of the window.
Deputies worried that many innocent civilians could have been impacted if the situation deteriorated, since morning activities in the apartment complex were beginning, as kids prepared to head off to school and parents left for work.
CCSO determined that the man posed a threat to himself and was also a threat to the safety of the responding law enforcement officers and to the community. However, they were reluctant to try and contact him in the apartment as they feared he might try jumping from the window and seriously hurt himself. Police also worried that he might use any manner of weapons against responders, as deputies did not know what he had access to in his apartment.
At this point MPD’s Campos, Meier and Smith arrived, along with Milwaukie Behavioral Health Specialist Glen Suchanek. They engaged the suicidal man in conversation.
Campos noted that the man was hallucinating, seeing and hearing people in his apartment who were not there. So they came up with an idea of coaxing him out of the window by getting a ladder from Clackamas Fire, which would allow him to leave the apartment without having to back through it.
Persistence paid off. After over an hour of successful negotiation and de-escalation, they were finally able to persuade the man to drop the piece of broken glass he was using to puncture holes in his neck and to come down the ladder. Once he was down the ladder he was taken into custody on a Police Officer Hold and taken to Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital for treatment by medical professionals.
CCSO thanked the persistence and professionalism of Milwaukie police personnel who took the lead on establishing rapport with the suicidal man, which was ultimately a key factor in persuading him to come down out of the window. No other member of the community, nor any of the law enforcement officers present was injured.