Kennewick specialists prevent arrest of man suffering mental health crisis

Kennewick Police Department (KPD)

KENNEWICK, Wash. — In the past, Kennewick Police would be forced to arrest individuals during serious mental health crises. Now, thanks to a partnership between the police and mental health specialists in the area, those suffering from mental illness can receive the attention they need in place of criminal treatment in non-violent circumstances.

A prime example of this came on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 15, when Kennewick Police officers responded to the area of N Union St & W Clearwater Ave. They were dispatched for reports of a man running around shirtless; claiming that he had been maced, robbed and that his soul was stolen.

Per a KPD Facebook post, officers provided the man with a bottle of water to help cool him off given his erratic physical state. He responded by pouring the water over his head and running into traffic on Clearwater Ave, forcing commuters to a halt in the middle of the roadway. The man allegedly waved his arms around, stopping cars and asking for help.

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Police say that most of his comments were indiscernible, but local authorities were able to catch his attention and order him to the ground without the use of force. He was detained for his own safety and the safety of others when he began yelling that officers were trying to kill him. Authorities say that he began spitting and slamming his head into the ground when an emergency blanket was placed under his head to minimize self-inflicted injuries.

A team from the Kennewick Fire Department transported the man to the Trios Health Southridge Hospital, where he was contacted by a Lourdes Health mental health professional (MHP), who identified the man as having a history of mental health issues and narcotics abuse. Instead of facing criminal charges for this outburst, the man was placed in protective custody to continue evaluation and provide him with the mental health resources necessary to improve his state.

Kennewick Police highlighted this as a firm example of how Crisis Intervention Training and de-escalation techniques are being implemented to safely help those in need instead of simply labeling them as criminals and throwing them in jail.

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