MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A real-life example of what community policing could look like in Minneapolis happened earlier this week.

It was Monday night when officers were called to help a woman in the middle of a mental health crisis.

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Minneapolis police coordinated with boots-on-the-ground organizations to bring a peaceful end to an 18-hour standoff that could have very easily spiraled out of control.

A call for a jumper at an apartment building on Oak Grove Avenue sent Incident Commander Lt. Kelly O’Rourke and his officers running into position to keep the woman inside, and people in the area safe.

“She was screaming, yelling she wanted to kill herself. She was throwing the entire contents of her apartment out the window,” O’Rourke said.

He immediately called for negotiators and additional medical personnel.

“The scene kept escalating, and at one point she had attempted to start a fire in her apartment,” O’Rourke said.

Community groups A Mother’s Love and We Push for Peace responded immediately. DonEster Anderson is program director for A Mother’s Love.

“Tuesday morning it was still going on, and we got the call to please come and assist,” Anderson said.

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(credit: Minneapolis Police)

Deputy Chief Erick Fors says community partners are needed now more than ever for the department.

“I think it’s important to note that the partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department and our community partners really shows our commitment to wanting to do everything we can to resolve these situations peacefully,” Fors said.

Residents were evacuated, and more than 20 officers sat in a hot hallway for hours, in full tactical gear, as family worked with negotiators and community partners to gain entry into the apartment.

“We’re keeping an eye on her through the window, trying to make conversation with her, which wasn’t going particularly well,” O’Rourke said. “She comes to the window with a gun.”

Officers pulled back and waited for the woman to calm down. It was a family member who helped gain her trust, allowing A Mother’s Love, We Push for Peace and officers to get inside and help her.

“They talked her into unlocking the door, and once that door was unlocked the police could go in and we could go in,” Anderson said.

She says there was struggle to get the woman under control. She bit several people before being sedated and taken to the hospital.

“She clamped down on my hand and would not let go,” Anderson said.

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This community-based response is nothing new for MPD. In 2019 and 2020, officers — with the help of community partners — responded to more than 5,000 calls to help with a mental health emergency.

Reg Chapman