Recently, I’m not providing exact details as I do not wish to provide identifying information about the person in distress, I observed a Hamilton Police response to a person in emotional distress.
The person was on the roof of a house porch, angrily yelling at police, threatening police, neighbours, and harm to himself. A crowd of over a dozen people were watching, police had closed off the block, and surrounding area. (Of course, as is too often the case these days, people were ignoring the police lines and walking directly through the situation) Paramedics were stationed on standby, the Emergency Response Unit (commonly called SWAT) were at the ready, and many people were recording the scene.
I observed for about 10 minutes, taking note of the deployment of personnel, the posture of those personnel, and how police were handling the situation. My primary purpose was to be able to write in the event the person did harm themselves and the matter becomes a Special Investigations Unit case.
Police were working to deescalate the situation, not imposing upon the man, giving space while being close enough to quickly intervene if harmed himself. Staff Sergeant Andrew Toms was maintaining a calm posture and tone in communicating to the man, listening to him, and building a rapport. Time was the ally of the police, and they were making full use of it.
Toms spoke to the man on a first name basis, calming him and working to resolve the situation
A few hours later, the situation was resolved, the man was taken to hospital without harm coming to him.
We often hear when these situations are not resolved – be it YouTube videos or SIU press releases, yet what happened the other night is the norm. The situation is resolved, the media doesn’t report it (primarily to not cause anguish to the person who was in distress), and you never know it happened.