Contact handler’s professionalism prevents violent situation from escalating
A contact handler and despatcher in Kent Police’s force control room (FCR) has been recognised for her professionalism when dealing with a violent incident.
Sarah Steer, who has been taking 999 calls in the FCR for five years, was on duty when she received a call from an elderly man who stated his adult son had armed himself with a carving knife and was threatening to cause harm.
It became apparent the armed man was suffering a severe mental health episode. Sarah asked to speak with the man’s son and they began to build a rapport. After a short time of speaking with Sarah, the man allowed his father to leave the house safely.
After two hours of conversation the man had calmed down significantly. He said he no longer wanted to harm himself or others and surrendered peacefully to officers.
Chief Inspector Ray Quiller said: ‘Sarah did an excellent job in calming a potentially violent life threating situation. She used her experience to engage effectively with the man preventing the incident from escalating.
‘Challenges like this are faced regularly by our call takers, they have to think quickly and use their skills and professionalism to help conclude such incidents safely.’
Sarah said: ‘This incident highlights the work we do in the control room. We join the job to help people and that’s what we are passionate about. When I received this call, I realised something needed to be done to safeguard this person and the people around him quickly. My instincts and training kicked in and we managed a safe resolution.’