SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - Communication can be the key to resolving tense situations. A South Euclid police officer used his crisis intervention training to de-escalate a tense situation involving an autistic child in Walmart that could've ended different if crisis communication wasn't used.
Officer Dustin Smoot was working off-duty as security at the South Euclid Walmart when he noticed a boy with autism having a difficult time calming down. Officer Smoot walked over to the boy and his mother, who was visibly shaken and started a conversation to diffuse a tense situation.
One he was able to guide the child outside, the child began scratching and screaming at Officer Smoot, but that didn't deter him from making sure the child was able to get to the bus stop.
He says good communication skills are critical in moments of panic or when someone is having psychiatric episode.
"I've been on the job 12 years in South Euclid and they've always made a priority to send officers to training,” said Joe Di-Lillo, Jr. "It’s a major priority: officers receive this training and learn from calls. Required training every year, this is one of several elements of training. Having good effective strong dialogue, being a good communicator is essential to being a good police officer."
Another situation earlier this week involving an 11-year-old boy who wouldn't leave the closet to take his medication, demonstrated the importance of crisis training.
"Whether they have a possible mental illness or not, have a good strong communication, good dialogue with them and ultimately bring a situation to a positive resolution. That's very important," said Officer Di Lillo.