Bodycam video shows efficacy of police de-escalation during mental health crisis

Karen Jordan Image
Friday, April 22, 2022
Bodycam shows how police de-escalation tactics work with people in mental distress
Bodycam video released by the Cook County Sheriff''s Department with the permission of the man in them shows how effective de-escalation techniques can help people in mental distre

FRANKLIN PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Bodycam released by the Cook County Sheriff's Office shows how effective de-escalation training can be when officers are called to a mental health crisis situation.

"Not every call is criminal in nature," said Officer Ryan Huber, whose bodycam captured the video. "Sometimes it's somebody who's acting out or having some kind of emotional distress."

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach out to the National SuicidePrevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.

Huber responded to a call of a man acting erratically in March. The man in the video allowed the sheriff's department to release it, saying he's grateful for how the officer handled the situation that day.

"Communications advised there was somebody standing in the middle of Mannheim road trying to jump in front of traffic," Huber recalled. The man was threatening suicide. "He was walking toward me and he kept saying 'Shoot me, shoot me, I just want to die.'"

Huber was supported by his partner and Franklin Park police, who helped direct traffic around the tense situation. Instead of forcefully removing the man from the street, the 6-year veteran said he used his crisis intervention training to engage the man in conversation and other techniques to de-escalate the situation.

"He was able to seek help, emergency medical treatment and psychological treatment for something instead of being injured by the police," Huber said.

For the past several years, the entire Cook County Sheriff's Police Department has gotten crisis intervention training. Sheriff TOM Dart said there has been an increase in incidents where mental health is the issue.

"We get more and more calls where that is the whole reason we're there," he said.

Huber said he's thankful his training can help keep people safe with a positive outcome in the long term.

"We are here to help," he said.