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As Some Law Enforcement Agencies Rethink Policy, Is No Response The Best Response When It Comes To Possible Suicide-By Cop Calls?

An LAPD Patrol Car chasing down a suspect
An LAPD Patrol Car chasing down a suspect
Photo by Steve lyon via Flickr Creative Commons

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After initiating a traffic stop on Monday, CHP officer Andre Moye was shot and killed by a suspect whose father now says his son may have been trying to get the police to kill him.

These instances of so-called suicide-by-cop have become top of mind to many members of law enforcement when a 911 call comes in about someone who is threatening to hurt him or herself. But as awareness of police relations with communities, use of deadly force, and mental health continues to increase, some departments are reconsidering their policy of responding to calls that could be an instance of suicide-by-cop.

One such department is the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, where Sheriff/Coroner Greg Hagwood says his department has stopped responding to these kinds of calls for fear that their presence or intervention could aggravate the situation further, leading to the potential for more harm to come to police officers, bystanders, or the suspect him or herself. 

Is no response really the best response when it comes to instances of possible suicide-by-cop? How do different departments Where can a family turn for help if police won’t repsond to situations like this? What resources are available?

If you or someone you know is in need of help or considering suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Anita Chabria, reporter for the Los Angeles Times, covering California state politics based in Sacramento; she’s reported on this issue; she tweets @chabriaa

Greg Hagwood, sheriff/coroner for the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office

Cheryl Dorsey, retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD); she served between 1980-2000

Judy Ho, associate professor of psychology at Pepperdine University; she is also a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist in Manhattan Beach, CA.; she tweets @DrJudyHo