On April 4 at 8:45 p.m., officers were dispatched to the 9900 block of Charles Street in La Plata for the report of a man breaking out windows of a car.
Upon arrival, officers encountered an adult male standing near a truck on the side of the road. He appeared agitated and was wielding a running chainsaw and several large knives. CCSO Officers S. Joffe and Officer C. Nelsen were the first officers on the scene. The man repeatedly yelled that he wanted to be shot.
At a safe distance, Officer Joffe utilized the public announcement speaker system in his police car to establish a rapport with the man and to give verbal commands for the man to drop the weapons. Officers S. Griffith and J. Ryan, who are part of the Agency’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), arrived and assisted Officer Joffe in keeping a rapport with the man, who remained in one area as the officers kept him engaged.
Additional officers, including officers from the La Plata Police Department, arrived and set up a perimeter in the surrounding area as a precaution. Officers Joffe, Griffith, and Ryan continued de-escalating the situation by speaking with the man for approximately two hours when two additional officers, who are part of the Agency’s Emergency Services Team, saw an opportunity to safely apprehend him.
The officers were able to disarm the subject and take him into custody. The man was transported to a nearby hospital for a mental evaluation.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office has been training officers for many years on diffusing dangerous situations and recognizing signs of mental illness and in 2017, as a partnership between the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Charles County Behavioral Health Authority, the Southern Maryland CIT was founded. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police joined shortly after.
Since its inaugural training session, this group has trained police and corrections officers from each of these agencies as well as officers from the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Public Safety, La Plata Police Department, and the Department of Natural Resources Police.
The goal of CIT is to advance awareness of mental illness and provide officers with resources to collaboratively address situations involving people in crisis. Officers have first introduced to basic crisis intervention and de-escalation in the academy and veteran officers receive training throughout their careers to ensure they are better prepared to mitigate crisis situations when they arise.