Sheriff's Office Negotatiors Use Social Media for the First Time in Crisis Intervention
Cpl. Art Morrison credits Facebook chat and his fellow negotiators for saving the life of a suicidal man in Odessa Wednesday.
It was a first for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Cpl. Art Morrison II said at a press conference Thursday.
The sheriff's office used Facebook's chat feature to end a standoff with a suicidal man Wednesday, Morrison said.
According to a sheriff’s office report, deputies responded to a call on Chesapeake Drive in Odessa around 11:30 a.m. A 47-year-old man had barricaded himself in a shed outside the home after arguing with his family. He told his wife he was “going to do something to make the cops kill” him, the report stated.
"I've been on about 150 call outs" since becoming a negotatior about 13 years ago, Morrison said. This is the first time we have used Facebook in a crisis situation, he said.
Morrison and three other negotiators were set up at a command post nearby. There was no phone inside the shed and they weren't sure the man had access to a computer, but he accepted the friend request within 30 seconds, Morrison said.
We were able to find out a bit about him by looking at his likes and photos so we could get him to open up, Morrison said. Having access to that information, the team attempted to bring him around by reminding him of the things that he cared about, Morisson said.
After about 30 minutes of messaging back and forth, negotatiors lost contact with the man after he sent a final message: "black smoke in here," the report stated.
The SWAT team then relayed back to the negotiators that black smoke was coming out of the shed, Morrison said.
About 10 minutes later, the man exited the shed "covered in soot" but otherwise uninjured, Morrison said.
"I'm thankful he made the decision to come," Morrison said.
Though he was the one doing the typing, Morisson credits the other officers with the idea to use the social media site to make contact. "It's always a team effort," the 16-year veteran said.
"Facebook is definitely a tool I would use in the future," he said.