Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer coping with the loss of his friend and colleague Marty West, 63, a former police captain who worked through the ranks and retired in 2007.
On Monday, officers arrived at West’s home after getting a call from his wife telling dispatch, her husband was trying to take his own life.
When officers arrived to the home, West allegedly charged at the officers with a large knife, forcing officers to open fire.
“It was very emotional for me yesterday and it was very emotional for many of our officers,” Dyer said.
Dyer said he learned family members sought help for West after he started showing signs of mental illness three months ago.
“The main thing for me as a police chief yesterday after watching that video was to go and give that officer a hug, both of those officers, an tell them they did what they had to do to keep themselves alive,” Dyer said.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Brent Stalker teaches at the police academy at Fresno City College.
Stalker said part of his teaching is giving officers the tools on dealing with mental health situations while out in the field.
“I try to teach that when you get on scene that the best thing you can do is to communicate but again the person has to be willing on the other end to accept that communication,” Stalker said.
Dyer said 300 police officers have gone through a crisis intervention training to deal with mental health calls. The department has several resources for officers who are involved in a shooting.
The police department does have a chaplain program and a officer companion program, both programs have highly skilled and trained people which help officers deal with difficult situations.
Dyer said officers confronting suspects with mental health issues is a problem that’s going from bad to worse.
“This incident hit home in a number of ways. Certainly, you have our police officers who were the ones called out and had to use deadly force. They had to use deadly force on one of their own. A former police officer and it did not involved somebody who was involved in a criminal act, it was somebody who was facing mental health issues,” Dyer said.