Body Cam Video Shows Officers Hugging Armed Woman During Encounter: 'Everyone Went Home'

Body camera video captured a heartwarming encounter between Pennsylvania police officers and an armed woman as a tense situation ended with a compassionate hug.

Several officers from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police recently responded to a mental health crisis call involving a woman with a loaded handgun who was threatening to take her own life.

In the video, the first officers on the scene are seen speaking to her, and they kept her talking until other officers arrived. "Is something bothering you, honey?" one of the officers is heard asking the woman.

When others arrived on the scene, an officer with crisis intervention training took the lead and began calming the woman down, establishing a connection with her until she dropped the gun.

Footage shows that even after police were able to diffuse the situation, officers continued to console the woman, with one senior officer giving her a hug instead of handcuffing her.

Later, as the woman is seen hunched over and crying, multiple officers rub her back to comfort her.

"Peace restored," one officer is heard saying on the body camera video.

"No one was hurt, and everyone went home," Lieutenant Kyle Gautsch told WHTM. "The woman didn't harm herself, and she got the care she desperately needed."

Gautsch told Newsweek that although these interactions are not commonly released to the public, they are pretty common.

"This incident reflects only a single snippet of the total number of positive interactions that officers have/conduct throughout their shift(s)," he said.

Police Armed Woman Body Camera Hugging
Patrolman Nick Herbster's police patch is seen as he patrols the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on April 1, 2015. Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group

Gautsch said it was critical that officers remained calm at the scene, a tactic Harrisburg police learn in crisis intervention training.

"It was not a person who was just armed that was looking to assault someone. It was a person that was armed...and they were contemplating harming themselves," he told WHTM. "I think the officers did a great job at recognizing that and using their training in order to deescalate the situation and to get the individual to eventually drop the firearm."

Gautsch added, "It was tremendous restraint that these officers showed, as well as...compassion that they showed to the individual, recognizing the fact that they were going through a mental health crisis."

Harrisburg police officers participate in ongoing crisis intervention training and have help from mental health experts from Dauphin County who assist mental health–related calls.

The new program with the county was announced last June as an effort to reduce the number of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system. Four local police departments are participating in the program.

"Every day, police officers are on the front lines and responding to calls that often involve drug use or a mental health issue," Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick said in a press release.

"One of the most significant injustices our country faces is the continued jailing of the mentally ill, who end up trapped in an endless cycle of recidivistic behavior. The problem of mental illness is not new, but the ways we treat it continue to evolve, and hopefully, improve," Hartwick said.

Updated 05/27/21, 1:30 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional comments from Gautsch.