Red Bank Police video of the incident. Click lower right corner to enlarge.
The encounter with the armed subject, whom police did not identify, began shortly before 8 p.m. on a Tuesday after a report of a possible burglary at a home, Captain Mike Frazee told redbankgreen Thursday.
The caller knew the subject, who refused to leave the house after being asked to do so, Frazee said in an email.
Patrol officers Jhonathan Quispe (seen at right in video), Taylor Doremus and Chris Fuentes, along with Detective Sean Hauschildt and Sergeant George Travostino, responded to the call.
Frazee said that on arrival, Doremus and Fuentes were told, and visually confirmed themselves, that the subject was armed with a large knife. They unholstered their weapons and pointed them at the man, “not knowing his intentions,” he said.
According to police, the man refused to drop the knife, and told them he wanted them to shoot him.
At some point, Frazee said, the man “retrieved a second knife from his bag. [But] he did not approach or threaten officers at all.”
“After giving the accused verbal commands to drop the knife, Ptl. Doremus recognized the accused as a person who has frequent interactions with police,” Frazee said. “During that time, weapons were holstered and Ptl. Doremus, Ptl. Quispe and Det. Hauschildt began a more personal dialogue with the accused to de-escalate the situation.”
Police spent more than half an hour speaking with the man, reminding him that they’d previously given him rides and bought him food, the video shows.
“How many times have we said ‘hi’ to you walking around, given you rides?” Quispe asked the man. “I lost count.”
“During the almost 40 minute interaction, officers learned that the accused was stressed about being homeless and not having money to support himself. Officers also learned from the accused that he felt helpless in that no one cared enough to help him so therefore he wanted to harm himself. Officers continued de-escalation techniques, one of which allowed the accused to smoke a cigarette to help calm his nerves, which eventually helped lead to him being disarmed.”
After a 38-minute standoff, the man put down the knives as directed and presented himself to be handcuffed, the video shows.
The man was not charged because “he was looking for help and didn’t want to hurt anyone but himself,” Frazee said. In addition, the resident “didn’t want to pursue the incident as she was aware of his issues.”
The man was transported to Riverview Medical Center for a crisis evaluation.
Frazee, who was chosen in July by the borough council to succeed Darren McConnell as police chief, said that after reviewing video, “I am proud to say that all officers involved did a tremendous job in recognizing the issue and working as a team to de-escalate the situation.”
He said he shared the video in an effort to “educate the residents and community about what we are facing on a more frequent basis. We are definitely seeing more frequent mental health issues.”
Frazee noted also that Red Bank police are working under a one-year pilot program with a social services provider, P.U.L.S.S.E. Services, of Jackson Township to intervene with repeat, low-level offenders in an effort to reduced recurring encounters with law enforcement.
The borough was not working with P.U.L.S.S.E at the time of the July 11 incident. But in a similar situation now, a social worker might be called to the scene, if available, Frazee said. If the situation was deemed secure, the social worker could “help evaluate the person’s needs,” he said.
“Once the PULSSE program is operational, it should be an asset to the department and to the community,” he wrote. “We are all looking forward to its success, and I hope we are able to make a difference in someone’s life and within the community.”