In-custody death: Getting ready for the big one

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IPICD 3rd Annual Sudden Death, Excited Delirium & In-Custody Death Conference—LAS VEGAS

Well it finally happened, your first in-custody death. Were you ready? If not, you need to get ready for the next one because "Knowledge is Power."


If you weren’t ready, you should have considered attending the Institute for the Prevention of Custody Death’s annual conference. You should think of custody death as a when/then not an if/then possibility. Nationally known officer survival trainer Bob Lindsey explains that a department should think in terms of “WHEN” an in-custody death will occur, not “IF.” Gordon Graham notes that most liability risk management issues are both predictable and preventable – not that you can always prevent the custody death but that you can predict and prepare for this type of incident.

If your agency has not experienced an in-custody death yet, the IPICD Conference will help you prepare for it. If you have already had an in-custody death, the IPICD Conference will help you better respond to your next one. This column is not just for the police or correctional personnel who respond to these fatal encounters but also for all the fire, EMS, and medical personnel who respond to these events, as well as the administrators and legal representatives who become intimately involved with these long term risk management events.

Last Year’s Conference
Last year, I attended the Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths Second Annual Conference in Las Vegas. This three day event featured a wide range of international-known public safety, medical, and legal custody death experts. I was impressed by the wide range and depth that the conference covered these matters. The topics ranged from the understanding “excited delirium” to how law enforcement and medical personnel should respond to these types of emergency calls. The conference not only demonstrated that the different emergency response personnel must develop a coordinated response but also gave specific suggestions for how to accomplish this goal. The program also dealt with the wide range of custody deaths that exist that ranged from police related custody deaths dealing with the use-of-force including the suicide-by-cop phenomenon to correctional deaths including restraints and suicides. Presenters also dealt with the investigations and legal reviews that include medical examiners, lawyers, and expert witnesses. The whole conference was fascinating.

Although there were presentations geared specifically to every discipline involved in the prevention and/or management of in-custody deaths, being a former law enforcement officer and trainer, I especially enjoyed the use-of-force topics that included:

Greg Gunta, Esq., presentation on how to use expert witnesses in defending in-custody death cases, especially learning how to qualify and/or disqualify them as experts using the Daubert Motions was extremely helpful.
Mark Droll, Ph.D., presentation on the latest research in the use of the TASER was very interesting, especially since the use of TASER has been so much in the news.
Chris Lawrence, M.A, presentation on how to physically stabilize persons exhibiting “excited delirium” type symptoms was very interesting since these subjects are traditionally so difficult to control.
Missy O’Linn, Esq., presentation on how to defend these cases and how videotapes of these incidents should and should not be used was fascinating. She made the point that videotapes are not always an accurate record of what actually happened especially when establishing the “Totality of the Circumstances” known to the officer at the time of the incident.
John Peters, Ph.D, presentation dealing with scientific method, causation, and fallacies was very informative assisting non scientists in understanding how research needs to be conducted, as well as how it can be misused, mismanaged, and misrepresented.

Conference Feedback
I found the interaction with the presenters and the audience fascinating. The breaks and after-hour get-togethers left lots of time for open-ended discussions that allowed attendees to learn how other professional in their and other disciplines were dealing with these issues. It allowed networking to take place that allowed for follow up communications that fostered the sharing of information.

The feedback from attendees was very positive and interesting:
"This conference provided absolutely vital information for law enforcement and medical professionals about the issue of restraint of combative suspects, particularly those who are in the flipped-out condition known as 'excited delirium.' Conference presenters included prominent medical examiners and emergency room doctors, and researchers who have conducted studies of the risks and benefits of various types of restraint techniques used by law enforcement officers. I cannot say enough about the importance of this work."
–– Captain Greg Meyer, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.)

“I think that the issues we face as Police Officers are very similar. There are no winners when someone dies in custody. It has been great to learn from the wealth of experience and offers to help from experts and delegates and I have much to follow up on!”
–– Detective Sergeant Hilary Carmichael, London Metropolitan Police

“My reasons for attending the IPICD Conference in Las Vegas using my own coppers was to network, career development, and to show interest and pride in my chosen career. I have the met the experts in the field and talked to scores of other police, corrections, mental health, emergency services, and legal professionals. I have learned a tremendous amount of information and now have ability to reach out to find our even more. I will now be better prepared to serve & protect and control situations that I encounter. Therefore, all three of my goals were accomplished.”
–– Gideon Luty, Canadian Provincial Corrections Officer

The most important feedback from the audience was that this was important information that all fire, EMS, medical, medical examiners, police, and correctional managers, as well as their legal representatives and trainers had to attend on a regular basis. New information and changing staffs require that this conference be regularly attended by someone in your organization.

This Year’s Agenda
The 2008 IPICD Conference will be held from October 29 – 31, 2008 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s agenda is even more extensive than last years. Not only will attendees be able to be updated on the latest research but new areas of research will be covered including a study on the use of restraint chairs funded by the IPICD.

The focus of the 2008 IPICD conference will be on excited delirium and mental illness. Several speakers will be describing the differences and the similarities of these two mental health issues that present to first responders.

This will also be a historic conference. Participants will help to develop a consensus about excited delirium and response protocols. The IPICD is the first organization to bring people together to not only learn from world-class researchers and scientists about excited delirium, but also to hold a consensus forum about it.

No matter what discipline you represent, the IPICD Conference is one of those conferences that you must attend if you want to be able to access the latest research and practical suggestions for preventing and managing these traumatic situations dealing with in-custody deaths.

Contact Information
For more information about the Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths Conference please visit the IPICD website


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