Sheriff’s deputies’ measured response to a man’s suicidal intentions is being credited for preventing him from carrying out his plan to die at the hands of law enforcement officers Friday morning.

Deputies assigned to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Santa Maria Station responded about 10 a.m. after the unidentified man called a hotline and said he had a firearm and wanted law enforcement officers to shoot him.

After deputies made contact with the man, he became very agitated but was calmed by a deputy assigned to the Hostage Negotiation Team, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Deputies reasoned with the man and were eventually able to convince him to come out of his residence without the firearm, and he was transported to a local hospital for an evaluation coordinated with Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness Mobile Crisis Team, Hoover said.

During the course of the investigation, deputies learned the subject planned to point a handgun at deputies to make them shoot and kill him, a situation often referred to as “suicide by cop.”

They also seized two firearms that were registered to the man, as required by a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.

Hoover said the cautious approach deputies employed resulted in a calm and safe resolution of the situation, adding the incident is an example of the challenges law enforcement officers face when dealing with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Sheriff’s Office developed a state-recognized Crisis Intervention Team training program, now available to all Santa Barbara County law enforcement agencies, to teach officers about mental health disorders and the best ways to respond to people undergoing a mental health crisis, Hoover said.

This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, news editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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