Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cool Professionalism By Local Police

I was contacted by a reader who wanted to share a story of one terrible morning, but who wants to remain anonymous. The reason the person contacted me and allowed me to conduct the interview, was that they believe incidents like this should be talked about more openly, for better mental health care in our society. They also wanted to express their appreciation of how the situation was handled by 3 officers of the Town of Hyde Park police department. Too often it is only the bad news gets reported, yet when officers act with decency and keen professionalism, it goes unnoticed by the community at large. These officers might just say that the incident was "another day at the office" so to speak, but it is still important to take the time, from time to time, to show that the police can and do get it right, even when the media isn't looking and would rather seek out worse news.

So now, to the incident at hand. Police got an early morning call of domestic violence. I don't know how it was actually dispatched, but 3 officers were on the scene. Domestic disturbance calls can be the most dangerous situation a police officer can ever walk into. Emotions are never higher, and egos are never bolder, than in a confrontation in a home where someone lives. Hyde Park police have dealt with several fatal domestic situations, and the Hudson Valley has been rocked by this class of violence for the past several years.

Police entered the home to find some contents thrown about. The complainant reported that the subject was intoxicated, emotionally disturbed and possibly armed. With weapons drawn, police made entry to the bedroom where the subject was found asleep with a tactical pocket knife open and in hand. A rookie cop, or a jumpy cop, or even just a frustrated cop who has been doing the job too long may have wasted no time in either shooting the subject, or deploying the taser. These officers did not do that. That is not to say that they were weak, or forgiving in any way. They clearly and directly established their command presence. They didn't talk over eachother, there was no screaming and yelling, despite the wailing in the background by the complainant, fearing that the subject might be harmed by the police. The officers simply made their orders clearly, with commanding tone, and warned of the immediate consequences for failure to comply.

After a pause, the subject released the weapon and the scene was secured. The now handcuffed subject was treated with dignity and a certain level of compassion.

When all was said and done, the person was taken to the police car. Rather than being hauled off to jail though, police let the person get the treatment they needed to address their issues, and made transport to the local Saint Francis Hospital where psychiatric care is available on an emergency basis.

All in all, it was a situation that could have gone very badly, very quickly. But everyone did the right thing.

The subjsect would also like to express thanks to those men of the Hyde Park Police Department, as well as to the staff of Saint Francis who treated the patient with dignity.

My personal interest in the story as a journalist is to highlight just a glimpse of actual routine police work, as well as to draw attention to the mental health concerns that our society faces today.

Don't let perceived stigmas stop you from getting the help you need folks. There are resources out there. Even if you think you don't really need help now, don't let things get to a boiling point. Here is one resource you might look into, even if you are just not especially happy, a little blue, or too, if you have things that have been bothering you for a long time. Go get the help you need.

Mental Health America of Dutchess County, NY

And of course, follow this page to get the latest public information by this small but dedicated group of hometown professionals:

Town of Hyde Park Police