HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Body camera video captured an encounter with a woman with a loaded handgun that police in Pennsylvania say was diffused with compassion and a hug.
Recently several Harrisburg police officers responded to a mental health crisis call involving an armed woman threatening to take her own life.
“Is there something bothering you, honey,” someone can be heard saying on the video.
The situation was tense since things could have taken a dramatic turn in seconds.
“It was not a person who was just armed. It was a person who was contemplating harming themselves,” said Lt. Kyle Gautsch.
The first officers on the scene started talking with the woman and kept her talking for several minutes until other officers arrived.
An officer with crisis intervention training took the lead and began talking to the woman to build a connection and calm her down. After several minutes of conversation, the woman dropped the gun.
Instead of rushing to handcuff the woman, a senior officer consoled her with a hug. Afterward, an officer can be heard on the video saying, “Peace restored.”
Gautch said the key was that the officers responded without panicking.
“It was tremendous restraint that these officers showed as well as restraint and compassion they showed for the individual,” Gautsch said.
He added that the training makes the difference in the field.
“No one was hurt, and everyone went home,” said Gautsch. “The woman didn’t harm herself, and she got the care she desperately needed.”
Harrisburg police officers participate in crisis intervention training that is ongoing, and they have help from mental health experts who assist with mental health-related calls.