New Excited Delirium Protocol Issued By San Jose PD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Looking for guidance on a protocol for Excited Delirium calls? A recently updated training bulletin from San Jose (CA) PD might be a good starting point.

“It’s the closest thing to a policy on the subject that I’ve been able to find,” says Wayne Schmidt, executive director of Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, the organization that tracks legal issues pertaining to policing. Schmidt told Force Science News that he has searched for months for departmental policy statements on ED, with little success.

San Jose’s 4-page document, created by the agency’s R&D Unit and issued to all personnel by Chief Robert Davis, is designed to help officers identify and manage ED situations so that “risks to all those involved, including the delirious individual,” are minimized. The bulletin notes that ED is “a serious medical condition…a disturbance of consciousness” in which the afflicted subject’s violent resistance to arrest “for prolonged periods may increase the risk of death.”

Step 1, the bulletin says, is to recognize symptoms suggestive of a delirious state, “which can be caused by several factors, including, among others, chronic drug use (particularly cocaine or methamphetamine abuse), substance withdrawal, and/or mental illness.” Cues may include: “rambling and incoherent” speech, disoriented or delusional comments and behavior, the removal of clothing (because of “elevated body temperature”), imperviousness to pain, unusual strength, violence toward objects, hyperactivity, attraction to glass, and more than a dozen other indicators.

While officers lack the psychiatric expertise to make a firm diagnosis, a reasonable suspicion that “an individual may be in an excited delirium state” requires that the subject “be treated as if he/she is in a medical crisis and will require medical attention,” the bulletin stresses. In other words, “the incident shall be managed as a medical emergency, in addition to whatever other law enforcement response may be required…including the use of reasonable force.”

Specifically, the bulletin offers these recommendations:


If information from a reporting party leads the dispatcher to believe that an ED situation is at hand, “EMS personnel are to be dispatched and advised to stage at a location a safe distance from the scene until notified by officers that the scene is secure.” If practical, “a minimum of 4 officers…will be dispatched to the incident,” and they will be advised of the EMS location.


As soon as they are notified at the staging area that the scene is secure, “EMS personnel will respond to the scene, evaluate the individual involved, administer appropriate care, and monitor the individual until he/she is delivered to an emergency medical facility.”


First, request EMS if they have not been initially dispatched. If the subject is unarmed and appears not to pose an immediate threat to self or others, “officers shall, if practical, contain the subject while maintaining a safe distance and remove others who might be harmed.” In a decision to arrest, try to gain the subject’s voluntary cooperation with these tactics:

  1. “Attempt to ‘talk the person down.’”

    Ideally, only 1 officer conducts conversation, but if the subject is “unresponsive or non-compliant with the first officer, attempts to communicate should be made by other officers present.” Officers should “project calmness and confidence and speak in a conversational and non-confrontational manner. Statements should include reassurance and [emphasize] that the officer is trying to help.

    “Whenever possible, determine if the person can answer simple questions.” This will give an idea of the subject’s level of coherence. “Officers should also turn down their radios.

  2. Because of the subject’s mental state, “statements and questions may need to be repeated several times. The person may also be fearful and extremely confused…so officers should be patient. If the subject is contained and does not appear to pose an immediate threat, there is no rush. It may take some time for the subject to calm down.”
  3. “Attempt to have the individual sit down, which may have a calming effect.”
  4.  “Refrain from maintaining constant eye contact, as they may be interpreted as threatening.”
  5. If a relative or someone else “who has rapport with the individual can safely participate, enlist his/her assistance” in trying to gain compliance.
  6. If the subject is armed or combative or otherwise poses an immediate threat, officers shall employ “reasonable and necessary” force to protect themselves and others and take the person into custody. “To the extent practical,” try to minimize the “intensity and duration” of any resistance and “avoid engaging in a prolonged struggle.” It may be possible to limit resistance by using several officers “simultaneously to restrain the subject quickly.”
  7. Once the subject is in custody and the scene is safe, EMS personnel should be called from the staging area. Some ED subjects “have gone into cardiac arrest shortly after a struggle,” so the person’s “breathing shall be monitored at all times and the person’s position adjusted to maximize the ability to breathe.” The subject should be “transported by ambulance to an emergency medical facility for evaluation and treatment.”

Regardless of procedures, ED is a high-risk situation for all involved. As the San Jose bulletin acknowledges, “It is possible for a person in this condition to die, even when officers take all reasonable precautions.”

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, notes: “San Jose’s suggestions for calming an agitated subject are based on classically taught, tried-and-true method for dealing with EDP’s on the street. They are psychologically solid and have been practiced successfully with severely disturbed individuals.” (A good primary source for such methods is the textbook “Understanding Human Behavior for Effective Police Work,” by Harold Russell and Allan Beigel. It’s available (used) for as little as $5 on Amazon.com.)

Lewinski continues: “As the training bulletin points out, excited delirium subjects may be unresponsive to dialog and may need to be controlled by overwhelming force. And that raises training issues. In addition to instruction on the proper application of the TASER in these situations, officers need to learn and practice how to work effectively as a team to control these violently resisting subjects. Just grabbing a wrist here and an ankle there in an ad hoc fashion, rather than employing a coordinated group tactic, may only result in unnecessary injury and a prolonged crisis.”

One tactic for group control, the Star Technique, is described in an article by popular DT trainer Gary Klugiewicz, a member of FSRC’s National Advisory Board, on his website at: http://acmisystems.net/html/articles.asp

[Note : Wayne Schmidt will be distributing the full San Jose training bulletin on ED as part of the handout material for AELE’s next “Officer-Involved Lethal and Less-Lethal Force Seminar,” scheduled for Nov. 12-14 in Las Vegas. For more information on that program, go to www.aele.org

[Meanwhile, San Jose PD’s R&D Unit can be reached at 408-277-5200.]

Leave a Reply


  • Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Effective date: January 06, 2019

Force Science Institute, Ltd. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://www.forcescience.org/ website (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for Force Science Institute, Ltd. is based on the Privacy Policy Template from Privacy Policies.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from https://www.forcescience.org/

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service. You can learn more how to manage cookies in the Browser Cookies Guide.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

Force Science Institute, Ltd. uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Force Science Institute, Ltd. will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

Force Science Institute, Ltd. may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of Force Science Institute, Ltd.
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

  • By email: support@forcescience.org
  • By visiting this page on our website: https://www.forcescience.org/contact
  • By phone number: 866-683-1944
  • By mail: Force Science Institute, Ltd.