Lacey Police Praised for Defusing Tense Situations Without the Use of Force in 2020


Lacey Police Chief Robert Almada recognized four staff members on Thursday for de-escalating tense situations without the use of force in 2020.

The staff members were three officers and an outreach coordinator who is embedded with police to work with the homeless. All four were awarded commendations before Lacey City Council, including Councilman Lenny Greenstein, who has appeared to recover from COVID-19.

Although all four attended the meeting, Chief Almada spoke on their behalf.

The honorees:

— Patrol officer, Alisha Howard: On June 1, Howard was dispatched to the McDonald's on Pacific Avenue Southeast after a report of a man attacking employees. The man, estimated at 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, was pacing and yelling at Howard and other officers, and when they tried to take him into custody, he became very agitated, said Chief Almada.

Almada said Howard was able to establish rapport with the man, finally leading him by the hand to a patrol car without the use of force.

— Patrol officer, Eric Lever: On July 28, Lever was dispatched to a residence after a report of a man suffering from poor mental health. When he arrived, he found the man in the front yard, dressed only in his underwear, holding a bow and arrow. He also threatened to shoot someone in the face with the arrow. Lever, according to Almada, spent the next two hours talking to the man to get him to put down the weapon.

— Patrol officer, Dave Johansen: On Oct. 1, Johansen responded to a fight on Sixth Avenue Southeast, near Sleater-Kinney Road Southeast, only to learn that a man at the scene had taken the powerful opioid fentanyl and was dying. The man was barely breathing and had a slow pulse, so Johansen administered two doses of Narcan, a drug designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and saved the man's life, Almada said.

— Outreach coordinator, Terence "Mitch" Mitchell: On Oct. 30, Mitchell, who was assisting a homeless man with his debit card over the phone, needed the man's identification to help. Mitchell found the man on Galaxy Drive, near Walmart, but he was agitated and spoke of giving up. He also threatened to step into oncoming traffic.

Almada said Mitchell calmed the man down and recommended he be taken to South Sound Behavioral Hospital in Lacey. The man left the hospital on Nov. 20 and has since found housing in Centralia, Almada said.


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