De-escalation by Disengagement



On 05/15/22 at approximately 1:40 pm, the Chico Police Department received a call about a suicide attempt on Ralland Cir.  A man had made suicidal statements and armed himself with a hammer and a knife. 

Due to Chico Police Officers actively working other incidents, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office responded and proceeded to stabilize the scene until Chico Police Officers could respond and assume responsibility. 

Once on scene, Chico Police Officers requested the assistance of the Butte County Behavioral Health Mobile Crisis Team to de-escalate the man and allow for a mental health evaluation.  The male did not respond to their efforts.  Both a Chico Police Crisis Negotiations Team member and a Butte County Sheriff’s Office Negotiator also attempted to talk the subject down and get him help.  They too were unsuccessful.

After an hour-long effort to establish communications with the man failed, an assessment was made by the on duty Watch Commander.  Given the man’s mental health episode, the lack of a crime, the fact that he had threatened to harm himself, harm officers, and instigate a suicide by cop confrontation; a decision was made that protecting his life was best achieved by Officers disengaging. 

In responding to these types of calls, our goal is to employ strategies and techniques intended to de-escalate these situations and to avoid lethal force when possible. Our highest priority is the preservation of life. In unique situations where the threat to the public is minimal but a prolonged and direct intervention has a high propensity for a violent confrontation, we consider a strategic disengagement. We will walk away.

In this specific instance, disengaging ensured that the man would have the space to process his episode and we would remove the obvious source of hostility—us.  The Chico Police Department is committed to De-Escalation and adheres to current best practices aimed at preserving life and decreasing the intensity of situations.

Location:  Ralland Cir., Chico Ca

Victim:  Withheld

Suspect:  N/A

Supervisor:  Lt. Omar Peña

Lieutenant: Lt. Omar Peña

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