Local police were called to an incident involving a Male over the weekend who they say had mental health issues.
Unfortunately it was also reported that a firearm could also have been present, so as the Male was not making any contact back with officers, they had little options but to involve an ’Armed Responce Unit’ (ARU) as a safety precaution.
A spokesperson for the PSNI has since spoken after the incidents successful conclusion, while highlighting the importance of taking mental health issues into consideration, saying;
“Mental health still tends to have a negative stigma attached and can often be a taboo subject. But it shouldn’t be! As a member of the Public it can look or seem like an overreaction on our part, however our job is to Protect life and Property and under all circumstances preserve life and Public safety.
With a person who presents as emotionally and/or mentally distressed our aim as a Police Service is to keep them safe and well, as well as all members of the public within that area. On Police arrival we were presented with a person who was suicidal and highly emotionally/mentally distressed.
Police initially tried to talk with this male however, were unable to get a response. The situation only escalated with reports from the Public stating that this person was potentially in possession of a firearm. Due to the risk not only to the Public but to Police all surrounding householders were told to remain inside and a cordon was put in place to prevent any persons or traffic entering the area therefore minimising risk to Public safety. Due to the report of a potential firearm, Armed Response Unit were tasked to attend.
ARU are a specialised unit within the Police who have access to a range of non-lethal tactical options to which a response officer does not. They also have more protective equipment, which lowers the risk to those Officers. On their arrival they successfully withdrew the male from the property without any harm to himself or others.
This male was then taken to Causeway Hospital where he received the best treatment and professional care alongside Police.
I am pleased to say that on completing a search of the male and the surrounding area there was no firearm or imitation firearm located. In saying this as Police Officers we have to take certain measures and actions based on the initial reports from members of the public to ensure Public safety and to preserve life, even though this may seem disproportionate to by standers.”