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Maryland Cops Applauded For Properly Responding To Man Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis

Maryland Cops Applauded For Properly Responding To Man Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis

Maryland officers Edgar Andrickson-Franco and Mancini Gaskill are receiving praise after calming a man who was having a behavioral health crisis on Saturday. The officers found the man inside a convenience store in Hyattsville, Maryland, after they received a call about a person who was agitated. 

“When we first arrived, he appeared to be incoherent,” Andrickson-Franco told NBC Washington. “He wasn’t making much sense.”

The deputies added that the man became verbally abusive and refused to react when they sat down with him on the floor. But the officer methodically continued to engage with the man.

“We didn’t want to be too overbearing,” Gaskill said.

During a time when police brutality has become one of the major issues in the country, as evident by the killing of George Floyd and others, the Hyattsville officers chose a different approach, taking time to build trust with the distraught person. 

“Me reacting the way he was reacting wasn’t going to get us anywhere,” Andrickson-Franco said. “If anything, it would have worsened the situation.”

After the man eventually handed over his phone, the officers called his relatives, who came and picked up their loved one. 

“I let him know I was there to help him out,” Andrickson-Franco said.

While advocates around the country have been holding protests in the past year and calling for police reform, the Hyattsville Police Department has been implementing its Mental Health and Wellness Program.

“It feels really good to know that they were able to deescalate that situation,” said Hyattsville police spokesperson Adrienne Augustus, a manager of the program.

The department plans to ramp up its efforts next month, leading a Mental Health and Wellness Day which will focus on mental health and domestic abuse response training.

Other police departments around the country are also introducing new training programs. In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the department is working on a program known as integrating communications, assessment and tactics or ICAT. 

“ICAT as a training model was developed in 2016 by the police executive research forum it intertwines mental health training and police tactics training so we can slow situations down and de-escalate situations with people experiencing crises,” Police Chief Matt Rokus told WEAU. 

One of the many high-profile cases of last year was seen in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That incident took place in August when police shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake while responding to a call of a domestic dispute. As Blavity previously reported, Blake was trying to deescalate an altercation between two young women before police arrived and shot him in front of his children, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. 

“The sanctity of life needs to be at the center of everything we do,” Rokus said.

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