On Saturday April 8th, the Paterson Police Department responded to a 911 call from a man claiming he was homeless and suicidal, but unlike with Najee Seabrooks, an anti-violence advocate who was shot by officers in March after he called 911 for help during a mental health crisis, the situation ended peacefully.
After a nearly six-and-a-half-hour-long standoff, involving collaborative efforts of the Paterson Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, and the Crisis Team from St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, the man agreed to surrender.
When officers arrived at the location near the Paterson Great Falls, they observed the man with a large knife who appeared prepared to harm himself. Paterson Police and New Jersey State Police negotiators responded along with members of the State Police Emergency Response Team.
Paterson Police maintained a dialogue with the man while State Police negotiators provided assistance and expertise. At approximately 11:26 P.M. the scene was determined to be safe, and the man agreed to surrender and hand over the knife.
Law enforcement maintained contact with the Crisis Team at St. Joseph’s to ensure a transition to mental health services upon resolution. The man was then transported to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, and no injuries were reported during the incident.
Attorney General Matthew Platkin praised the cooperative efforts of the Paterson Police Department and the New Jersey State Police Emergency Response Team, stating, “while each situation is unique, in this instance, thanks in large part to the Paterson Police Department and the New Jersey State Police Emergency Response Team, this situation was resolved peacefully.”
Interim Officer-in-Charge NJSP Major Frederick Fife also thanked the officers involved in the situation, commending their professionalism, patience, and dedication to ensuring the community’s safety.
No criminal charges have been filed in connection with this incident, as it is being treated as a mental health matter that involved police action as part of law enforcement’s community caretaking function.
The identity of the individual involved has not been disclosed.
Following Seabrooks’ killing by police in Paterson, Lisa McCormick and others renewed their call for action on a bill proposed by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, which aims to allow cities to create civilian review boards with subpoena power.
The bill has stalled in the Legislature, and after the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down subpoena power for Newark’s upstart civilian review board in 2020, amid a backdrop of political unrest following the murder of George Floyd, some state lawmakers seized the issue.
In March of 2023, the Office of the Attorney General assumed control of all police functions in the city of Paterson, and in May of 2023, Isa Abbassi, a 25-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and its current Chief of Strategic Initiatives, will become the Officer-in-Charge of the Paterson Police Department.