P1 Column: Patterns of behavior, officer safety, and 'the rule of opposites'

Part One: We recognize opposites — day as compared to night, happy compared to sad, failure versus success, peace as opposed to war, and safety counter to danger

You’re assigned to handle an emotionally disturbed person — a female — threatening suicide, according to a person who called dispatch. The location and assailant are known to you — you’ve had frequent interact with this individual, at this location, for the same type of problem.

You arrive on scene, get out of your patrol car, and begin to talk with the woman allegedly in emotional distress. She tells you she is fine and that she did not need police services. Your initial assessment indicates that she’s okay, so you leave. Soon thereafter, the 911 caller — apparently a friend of the subject — calls again and states that the victim is indeed in emotional distress. The caller says the woman had “lied to the cop” and that “she’s going to kill herself.”

En route back to the location, you call off backup, stating, “It’s just another transport to the hospital,” even as you think to yourself, “This is a normal pattern of behavior for this location.”

No Room to Move
You park (out front this time), and walk up to the door — which is open — and begin to speak with the woman. She’s now very angry and animated and shouts she does not want to go to the hospital. You continue the conversation in an attempt to persuade her to go.

You step inside the crammed kitchen (approximately eight feet by ten feet), where you position yourself with a refrigerator to your left, a kitchen table to the right, and the meager kitchen countertop behind you. With just enough walking space between appliances, countertops, and furniture, there’s almost no room to move freely. As you talk with the distraught and angry woman, she reaches behind her back, lifts her shirt, and quickly draws a large knife, removes it from its sheath and thrusts it towards your chest.

You’re shocked and surprised by what’s happening but you quickly grab the knife hand and sweep the woman off her feet and to the ground. She continues to struggle and you used several strikes to get her to stop and regain control.

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Stay Oriented!

Fred