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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 193588 Find in a Library
Title: Suicide by Cop Syndrome: How Law Enforcement Successfully Can Meet the Challenge (From Suicide and Law Enforcement, P 689-693, 2001, Donald C. Sheehan and Janet I. Warren, eds. -- See NCJ-193528)
Author(s): John E. Roberts
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice
Quantico, VA 22135
Sale Source: US Dept of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Behavioral Science Unit FBI Acad
Quantico, VA 22135
United States of America
Document: PDF|PDF
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper discusses the syndrome of "suicide-by-cop" (a subject's committing suicide by forcing police officers to shoot him/her), as well as the role of training in preparing officers for such incidents.
Abstract: "Suicide-by-cop" (SBC) describes situations in which a person who intends to commit suicide threatens an officer with deadly force, hoping the officer will kill them, presumably because the subject does not have the fortitude to kill themselves by their own hand. The training and tactics used in responding to SBC situations should ensure the highest possible degree of officer safety. Officers should be taught to assume that all weapons pose a potential deadly threat, regardless of whether the officer might question whether the weapon is unloaded or is a realistic toy. Departments should not cloud an officer's decision to act in self-defense because of fear of public reaction or lawsuits. Training in appropriate response to SBC situations should involve live role-playing, simulation drills, computer-generated judgmental use-of-force scenarios, and a detailed review of actual SBC incidents. This should increase an officer's knowledge and skill in responding safely and appropriately to SBC incidents. The training must also focus on the impact of a SBC killing on the involved officer's mental and physical states, so as to prepare officers to accept such reactions as normal and anticipated. Further, the training must instruct officers in the resources provided by the department to help officers deal with the adverse impacts of SBC incidents.
Main Term(s): Police training innovations
Index Term(s): Critical incident stress; Police use of deadly force; Suicide
Note: A paper submitted to the Suicide and Law Enforcement Conference, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, September 1999.
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