You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New York City officers to get new training in dealing with mentally disturbed

September 27, 2008

All Emergency Service Unit cops will undergo a day-long refresher course in dealing with the emotionally disturbed after a deranged Brooklyn man died in an encounter with a Taser-wielding officer.

The reeducation blitz is just part of a shakeup ordered by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in the wake of ESU's botched handling of psychiatric patient Inman Morales. Morales, 35, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, went berserk Wednesday, climbed onto his fire escape naked and fell to his death after he was zapped with the stun gun.

"This is all about reinforcing training as it pertains to emotionally disturbed persons and not Tasers per se," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

Kelly Friday also tapped a deputy chief - 26-year NYPD veteran James Molloy - to oversee the cadre of 440 ESU officers, who are specially trained and armed and are assigned to answer all calls involving emotionally disturbed people, about 80,000 a year.

The training session, set for Monday at Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, will include mock rescues of disturbed people, indoors and out, including cases when the subject is elevated, as Morales was.

ESU Officer Nicholas Marchesona stunned Morales as the 35-year-old stood atop a security gate 10 feet off the ground and poked at ESU cops on a fire escape above with an 8-foot-long fluorescent light bulb.

After being shocked, Morales pitched forward and cracked his skull on the pavement. No air mattress had been placed to cushion his fall.

It was unclear whether Marchesona or the superior who ordered him to fire - 21-year veteran Lt. Michael Pigott - would be included in Monday's training, Browne said.

Pigott, 45, was stripped of his badge and gun Wednesday and placed on desk duty for ordering Morales Tasered when it was likely he would fall - a violation of NYPD policy, brass said.

Marchesona retained his gun and badge, but was taken off the streets and assigned to desk duty.

The NYPD has 525 Tasers assigned to ESU officers and patrol sergeants. Only ESU members will take part in Monday's refresher course.

Morales was the first Taser death in the city this year. The NYPD uses the stun guns about 300 times annually, including 180 times so far this year, police said.

The top ESU slot has been vacant about two months as the unit's commanding officer, Inspector James Dean, is on extended sick leave, Browne said. NYPD watchers said ESU had been without a commanding officer for closer to six months.

Deputy Inspector Robert Lukach has been acting commander in Dean's absence.

Browne said Kelly had "full confidence" in Dean and Lukach.

But Kelly wanted a chief in charge of the unit and selected Molloy, Browne said. Dean will become the executive officer of the Special Operations Division, which oversees ESU, when he returns, Browne said.

No comments: