‘Suicide by cop’ is a persistent problem. Here’s how to prevent it.

IN AWARDING $3.65 million to the family of a 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer responding to a “suicide threat” call, a Loudoun County jury sent a message to authorities. “We would like you to change your training,” said one juror, expressing the belief that there were options — other than immediately opening fire — that the officer could have employed when he confronted the young man armed with a knife and suffering from depression. The message should be taken to heart not just by the Virginia town where this tragedy occurred but by police departments throughout the country.

The 2014 death of Christian Sierra in Purcellville, recently detailed by The Post’s Tom Jackman, is a textbook — and heartbreaking — example of “suicide by cop.” It underscores the need for police agencies to adopt a protocol developed by a leading national police think tank that has been proved a safe and effective means of defusing such incidents.

The Washington Post