Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide

Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2020-08-18
Unit 1Slide Deck: Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide
Unit 2Transcript: Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide
Unit 3Workbook: Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide
Unit 4Recording: Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide

Webinar Video Clip: Suicide by Cop Protocols and Training Guide

Law enforcement protocols are highly scrutinized as of late. Responding officers are specially trained to de-escalate in-crisis individuals, but in cases of Suicide by Cops (SbC), they seem to be relegated to merely becoming the means for the end that the subject wants to accomplish.

Shelly Katkowski joins the Justice Clearinghouse to discuss protocols and guidelines when handling Suicide by Cop incidents. Shelly is a lieutenant from the Burlington (NC) Police Department and is its Director of Training. She is an active participant of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and its various initiatives – selected as PERF Coordinator, developing and teaching select training topics, and is currently involved in its fellowship program.

Topics discussed in this session are:

  • A short introduction to the Integrating Communication Assessment and Tactics (ICAT) training which provides law enforcement professionals with the tools to respond effectively while maintaining safety in critical incidents and calls for service.
  • Suicide by Cop: What it is, its integration to the ICAT curriculum, and red-flags for someone who is contemplating SbC.
  • The two types of Suicide by Cop scenarios and video clips that demonstrate the distinctive qualities of each.
  • Recounting the actions and decision making of the primary responders in the case examples which significantly impacted the outcomes of the incidents.
  • Factors to take into account when handling SbC incidents.
    • How starting a dialog can hinder an individual from committing anything impulsive.
    • The importance of tactical pauses when responding to high-stakes scenarios to allow responders to regroup, process things, call for back up and maintain safety.
    • Talking points and questions to ask when attempting to build rapport and have a conversation with the person in crisis.
    • Avoiding hot buttons and leveraging hooks to keep the individual engaged and prevent them from doing anything reckless.
  • Elements that must be prioritized in such events.
    • Ensuring the safety of the responder/s as well as the public.
    • Calling for back up so the primary responder maintains connection with the subject while the rest works on the background to secure the scene and acquire needed resources.
    • A team effort with established roles between the players.
    • Leveraging distance, position, and other elements within the environment to maintain safety.
    • Communicating intentionally and empathetically with the at-risk individual to ensure that their emotions don’t intensify and they become more cooperative.

Points raised by the audience were on:

  • Research findings on the profile of individuals who try to commit SbC.
  • Understanding the concept of the 21-foot rule.
  • The mental health challenges in the law enforcement field.
  • Intentional decision-making in more unpredictable and fast-paced scenarios.
  • Utilizing chaplains as resources to provide support for the individual in crisis.
  • The outcome of the individual in one of the video clips presented.



Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Thank you for the webinar.  Although I’m not an officer, this helps me to understand why SbC happens in some cases.  Great job to the officer for defusing the situation!” — Tammy
  • “Seeing actual footage and techniques that were effective; especially how officers handled themselves under the pressure.” — Abby
  • “I like the juxtaposition of the two videos. It showed me that this training is crucial for myself and others so we have tools in the toolbox when confronted with this situation.” — Alicia
  • “The visual aspects of how suicide by Cop takes place. It is always important to have real-life incidents for all to visualize.” — Antwone
  • “Important information was passed along and straight to the training topic. I liked that it was not video after video showing incidents. Video was showed and after a topic of conversation and moved on to the next with the same a topic of conversation. The presentation was short and the presenter had lots of training and knowledge on the topic of training.” — CARLOS
  • “Eye-opener for us here in Smalltown, USA where we rarely experience these types of calls. Great class!” — Ray
  • “As a 20-year police psychologist with Fort Collins Police services I was happy to see that what I have been teaching is still in line with my friend John Nicoletti. …. Excellent webinar. Shelly knows her stuff. Top-notch…. No surprise, a good topic might be how mid-size and small departments can develop mental health resources and also a culture of acceptance of asking for help.” — Daniel
  • “I was a hostage/crisis negotiator/police officer for 25 years in Honolulu and although I didn’t learn anything new, I really enjoyed the presentation, the fact that we are emphasizing being trauma-informed, connecting and encouraging officers to take a step back when safe to do so to de-escalate the situation. Acknowledging the trauma these situations also cause for officers over the years is so important to their long-term mental health.” — Margaret



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