Formulating a Police Response to Suicidal People




Bundick, Robert

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


Police respond on a regular basis to calls dealing with suicidal subjects. For responding officers, this call type is often a high stress incident and often has little information that can help with a definite solution. The importance of this paper is to help inform responding officers, supervisors, and administrators of issues to consider in the planning phase when dealing with a suicidal subject inside their own residence with no other people in danger. This information gathering process is important to the call and plays a part in a decision making process. Constitutional issues surround entering a private residence without consent or a warrant for a person who has not committed a criminal offense. Law enforcement has numerous case law protections and exceptions to help with the protection of life when a person is inside their own residence, such as exigent circumstances. Other issues to consider are state created danger and the United States Supreme Court case Castle Rock v. Gonzales, which states police have no duty to protect (“Police Don’t Have Duty,” 2005). The Public-Duty Doctrine gives police immunity as a governmental agency, stating that duty to protect is owed to the public as a whole over any one individual (, n.d.). The public expects police to respond and take action in every situation. Police should take informed, thought-out action based on known information utilizing every resource available. There is no specified wait time before taking the correct actions even if the actions taken are physical in nature.



Crisis intervention, Mentally ill offenders