High-Risk Encounters

Some encounters tend to be more high risk than others. When following standard agency protocol of asking for documentation (i.e.-license, ID, registration), an individual with TS may make sudden, unexpected movements and sounds. Law enforcement officers will need to rely on their training to protect themselves and remain safe. However, unless the person is making direct threats, the best approach may be to ask, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” and use specific verbal commands, such as “Sir or Ma’am, I need you to put your hands on the steering wheel”. Be sure to ask the individual if he or she is able to comply with the instructions given. This will give the individual the opportunity to mention that he or she has TS and is unable to stop moving or making sounds, and is not intending to cause harm.

In general, de-escalation techniques can lead to better outcomes. Being patient, compassionate, and asking the right questions are essential to evaluating situations, responding appropriately, and facilitating communication with and cooperation from an individual with TS. However, if a person is a danger to him or herself or others, standard departmental operating procedures should apply. Knowing the
difference between danger and fear is key.

Referral to a Hospital for Medical Care: Situations that could warrant an emergency include injurious tics, such as head banging or hitting oneself, expression of suicidal thoughts, intent to harm oneself or others, overdose, or loss of consciousness.