Pima Co. Sheriff looks to enhance responses to mental health calls

Published: Jul. 25, 2016 at 7:51 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:16 PM MST
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Det. Kurt Dabb is specially trained to assist people in mental health crisis.
Det. Kurt Dabb is specially trained to assist people in mental health crisis.

PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) - Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos says he'll be meeting with mental health providers to discuss improving the way his deputies interact with people in a mental health crisis. Nanos said the numbers show special training is necessary to help thousands of citizens battling substance abuse or mental illness.

Last year deputies responded to 7,802 mental health related calls. This year the agency is on pace to meet or exceed that number. Year-to-date totals show deputies have responded to 4,234 mental health related calls this year.

Det. Kurt Dabb says he's responded to a number of these calls. Last Thursday, July 21, he was called upon to talk to a suicidal man in a Picture Rocks trailer home.

"The individual walked by a glass front door carrying what the deputy believed to be a long gun or rifle. Then shortly after they saw the barrel of the weapon come out the window," said Dabb.

Dabb has received special training to de-escalate these types of situations and encourage peaceful resolutions.

"To see if we can determine what this person wants. Does he really want to harm himself? Does he really want to harms us? Talk to that person as a human being."

It was a four-minute phone call that ended with the man surrendering to deputies outside. The rifle turned out to be a BB gun. Not one shot was fired from either side, something Detective Dabb wants the community to know.

"It's silly to think we're not afraid. No one wants to get shot at, a cop doesn't want to shoot somebody."

Dabb believes his Crisis Intervention Training played a key role in keeping everyone safe.

"We're here, we can't leave so you've got to come out so we can talk about this, and we can get you the assistance that you need."

Sheriff Nanos says the goal is to have every deputy trained like Det. Dabb.

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