Harrisburg police encounter with armed woman ends with consoling hug

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — More often than not, when police bodycam video makes the news it’s because a situation ends very badly — but recently, a group of Harrisburg Police Officers stepped up big time in a very tough spot.

Recently several officers responded to a mental health crisis call — a woman with a loaded handgun threatening to take her own life.

The situation was tense, as things could take a dramatic turn in less than a second.

“It was not a person who was just armed it was a person who was contemplating harming themselves,” said Lt. Kyle Gautsch.

The first officers on the scene started talking with her, and kept her talking for several minutes until others officers arrived.

An officer with crisis intervention training took the lead and began talking to the woman to build a connection and calm her down. After several minutes of conversation, the woman dropped the gun — but it’s not over yet.

Instead of rushing in to handcuff her, a senior officer consoles the woman.

Lt. Gautch says the key here was that the officers treated this situation for what it was without panicking about what it could become.

He adds the training is a difference-maker in the field. “No one was hurt and everyone went home,” said Gautsch. “The woman didn’t harm herself and she got the care she desperately needed.”

Harrisburg police officers participate in crisis intervention training that is ongoing and they have help from mental health experts from Dauphin County who assist with mental health-related calls.

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