HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Hanover County Sheriff's deputies successfully defused a potentially dangerous situation during lunchtime Tuesday, according to a law enforcement expert.
Miles Turner, with Law Enforcement Consulting, LLC analyzed cell phone video of the tense situation captured at the intersection of Atlee Road and Mechanicsville Turnpike at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hanover County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded "for a reported suspicious situation of a male standing near the intersection wearing a mask and holding a sword."
"Deputies arrived on scene and located the subject with a bandanna covering his face and holding a sword. He began to walk into the middle of the intersection," according to a press release.
A deputy could be heard yelling commands to the man, as seen and heard in cellphone video captured by a nearby driver.
"He’s giving great commands -- they’re nice and loud, anybody around him can hear him telling the fellow to lay the weapon down," Turner explained.
Turner described the repeated commands were part of critical deescalation training.
"That’s one of the things taught in crisis intervention training is what is not normal behavior and how do we diffuse without using force if we don’t have to," he stated.
The video shows the suspect eventually lay the sword down and puts his hands up.
He was taken into custody without incident.
The sword was found to be plastic, according to deputies.
"By the time you realize it’s a fake sword you can get stuck with a real one," Turner explained. "Most law enforcement officers are taught what’s called a 20 foot rule. If a suspect is within 20 feet of you they can close the distance and injure you before you can fire at them or fire a taser."
Dana Schrad, Executive Director for the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, described the deescalation training as time-consuming yet important for policing.
"It’s important that they have the training that helps them size up those situations quickly and know how to deescalate. It’s one of the reasons why we focus on mental health training and cultural diversity training," Schrad said.
Schrad travels the Commonwealth helping provide the training to jurisdictions, which she said can be costly for the localities.
"The difficulty is finding time to get our folks to get in training, finding the budgets to get them in training, back-filling their positions while they’re in training when somebody has to fill in for them on the street," Schrad stated.
She added, "crisis intervention training is something that generally has been provided after an officer has been in the field for awhile, but we are finding it’s something that we have to move to basic training."
Deputies said the man was taken for a mental evaluation, but subsequently arrested and charged with wearing a mask in public and disorderly conduct.
Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to contact the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at (804) 365-6140 or the Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. Citizens can also download the “P3 Tips” app for their mobile devices to submit their tip. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.