Mental health calls becoming “daily occurrence,” says Medford Police

MEDFORD, Ore.– A day after police say a suicidal man came at officers with a knife, Medford police say mental health calls are becoming an all too common part of their job.

The man who was shot is in stable condition as of last update Monday morning. The 55-year-old hasn’t been charged with a crime, so NBC5 News has decided not to disclose his name.

Medford Police Chief Scott Clauson says the three officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave which is standard protocol in officer-involved shootings.

Sunday morning police received reports of a suicidal man here on Seroba Circle. What transpired afterward highlights the need for crisis intervention and how important it is to understand when someone needs help.

“The whole protocol and the strategy is to deescalate situations,” said Clauson.

Shots fired in a northwest Medford neighborhood involved a 55-year-old man and three Medford police officers. According to MPD, initial reports came in of a suicidal man. A relative told police they had received a text from him saying goodbye.

When officers arrived, MPD says the man ignored commands and walked towards them with a knife. Two of the three officers fired tasers, the other fired their gun – hitting the man in the torso.

Chief Clauson says it’s common to have both weapons available in case things get heated.

“That’s a pretty standard protocol for us on a scene like that,” he said. “You always want to try all the options that you have.”

Clauson says every MPD officer is trained in crisis intervention. That includes 40 hours of in-depth training on mental illness each year.

“It gives us some tools to be able to speak to folks and deescalate situations,” he said.

For police, dealing with these types of mental health calls is becoming an almost daily occurrence. Each year for the past several years, MPD has responded to over 500 calls of suicide or attempted suicide. As of June of this year, 292 calls.

In that same time, each year the department has also made hundreds of mental health referrals – 463 were made in the first half of this year alone.

“It’s something that we’re certainly having conversations and working with our mental health partners to try and address,” said Clauson.

Medford police say mental health is now at the forefront of what they deal with but training can only prepare officers so much.

The case is still being investigated. The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office is assisting with the case. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a Grand Jury who will review the case.

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