(snippets) The San Francisco police hostage crisis negotiation team responded to more calls in 2016 than in any year in recent history, an uptick that officials see as a sign that the department is moving in the right direction in dealing with people suffering from mental health crises.
“We’ve all taken to heart de-escalation, the sanctity of life and trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution so that no one needs to get hurt, either the officers or the public or the suspects,” said Sgt. Lisa Frazer, acting officer in charge of the hostage crisis negotiation team.
Among the hostage team’s cases in 2016 were calls about a suicidal man with a gun in the Tenderloin, a 13-year-old autistic boy armed with a knife in the Mission District, a 25-hour standoff in the Ingleside neighborhood with a barricaded robbery suspect, and a four-hour-long incident involving a man with outstanding warrants who was in the water under Pier 48. All the incidents ended peacefully.
Once a specialized crisis-intervention team is operational, much of the burden will be lifted from the hostage team. Frazer said the process has already begun: In at least seven incidents in 2016, the hostage team was on its way — only to learn that the officers on scene had resolved the situation using de-escalation tactics.
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