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Salt Lake City Police discuss de-escalation, share video from nonlethal takedown

Posted at 12:03 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 14:04:39-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Body cam footage of fatal officer-involved incidents gain a lot of attention.

But Thursday, Salt Lake City Police showed reporters footage of a recent incident where officers managed to de-escalate the situation and prevent a lethal outcome.

Last week, officers responded to a man’s apartment to perform a welfare check at the request of a relative who reported the man was suicidal.

When police arrived, they found the man holding a knife to his neck and threatening to harm himself.

The lead officer called for reinforcements to secure the area and brought in what's known as a "40" — a nonlethal alternative that shoots large rubber bullets.

He then planned out with his fellow officers how to resolve the situation while staying in communication with the suicidal man.

While attempting to help the man, police also had to have a plan in place in case he tried to attack the officers with the knife.

After a few minutes, police entered the apartment, hit the man with the 40 and a stun gun, and took him to a hospital that night for treatment.

"We're trying to resolve this in a win-win situation where officers don't get hurt and we can get this individual some help," said Det. Greg Wilking. "Because of the training and professionalism of our officers, we have outcomes that are actually good for everyone."

Police respond to welfare checks like this nearly every day.

They said their primary goals are to protect themselves and their fellow officers, and also to resolve the situation in a manner which gets the person extracted safely and on the way to the help they need.

Police said this incident was a good example of all the training that they do, and putting it to work in a real life situation.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Utahns can also visit Hope4Utah and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for additional resources. You can also download the SafeUT app for instant, confidential crisis services.