Franklin James Cook

Cop Handles Crisis with Listening, Not Lethal Force

In Intervention on July 16, 2009 at 8:38 pm
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Denver Police Sgt. Greg Jones refused to be the "cop" in a high-intensity "suicide by cop" situation. (Karl Gehring, Denver Post)

Reporter Mike McPhee’s Denver Post story about a policeman receiving an award also highlights an important lesson about the most important tool in a suicide intervention: listening.

Last week, [Denver Police Seargeant Greg] Jones, 49, received the Crisis Intervention Teams of Colorado Association’s top award for his long-term commitment to crisis negotiations and specifically for his handling of a situation … when a 2-year-old boy had been shot dead in the arms of his father.

When Jones … answered a 911 call at East 13th Avenue and Madison Street on Oct. 12, 2008, Earl Ryan was on the front porch, waving a gun and threatening suicide. Ryan was determined to kill himself and had even planned it for the next day, Jones would learn.

As Jones approached with a rifle, Ryan yelled about “suicide by cop,” as if he could antagonize Jones into killing him.

But Ryan had the wrong cop. After negotiating with Jones for two and a half hours, Ryan laid his gun down and gave up.

“It’s not what you say to the person,” Jones said. “It’s what you listen to. You don’t talk someone out of a building, you listen them out.”

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/HandlesCrisis .]

Related SPNAC post: “Crisis Line Worker Says Honesty Is the Best Intervention” at http://tinyurl.com/BestIntervention

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