Mother thanks Arlington Heights police for peaceful resolution to son's crash, crisis

  • A Milwaukee couple praised the Arlington Heights Police Department this week for peaceful resolution to a Nov. 13 standoff with their son, who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

      A Milwaukee couple praised the Arlington Heights Police Department this week for peaceful resolution to a Nov. 13 standoff with their son, who was experiencing a mental health crisis. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, December 2018

Posted12/11/2020 5:30 AM

When a Milwaukee pastor and his wife got a call the night of Nov. 13 that their 20-year-old son was in a standoff with Arlington Heights police, they feared the worst.

"Our hearts are beating fast, and with all the racial injustice that was on the TV, I was praying and hoping that I would not have to be that mother who has to say the words, 'say his name,' or be that mother that has to file a lawsuit," said the mother of the man, who is Black.


"Because my husband and I were very positive whatever the situation was, he would not do anything to aggravate the situation because we know how we raised him."

They hurried across the state line to get to Palatine Road and Windsor Drive, where their son had crashed his vehicle and was having what police described as a mental health crisis. As paramedics tried to help, the driver began to cut himself, prompting a larger police response.

But after a 90-minute negotiation, the man came out of the car and the situation ended peacefully, just as his parents arrived.

The Milwaukee couple pointed to a host of factors -- namely the police officers' training and de-escalation techniques, and even the power of prayer -- that helped secure a peaceful resolution. The 20-year-old man's mother spoke to the Daily Herald after publicly thanking the Arlington Heights Police Department during a virtual village board meeting this week.

"It could have gone sour," said the woman, who asked not to be named to protect her son's privacy. "But we had time. They trusted us to get there. Time allowed them to use their training, along with prayer, and it worked. We're grateful."

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They say their gratitude extends to the first responder who kept them on the phone as they drove down from Wisconsin; the officer who answered at the police station when the Milwaukee man's grandmother -- a retired police detective herself -- called to ask them to be patient with her grandson; Pastor John Elleson, who tried to intervene at the accident scene that was across from his Lakewood Chapel; and the officer who called their son by his name and asked to pray with him.

"Obviously we're a religious family, but that triggered something inside of my son where he was able to come out of the car peacefully and receive the help that he needed," his mother said.

Now nearly a month after the incident, she said her son is doing well.

She also thanked Police Chief Nick Pecora for the two-way communication they've established, and explaining the police response that night.

The department dispatched three different teams of officers, including those trained in crisis intervention.

The Milwaukee mom also learned from the chief that the police force doesn't have one Black officer, but recently began renewing efforts to hire people of color.

"Everyone wants to see diversity I would hope because that's what brings people together. But when I look at an all-white police force and this situation ending the way it did, it lets me know that I don't have to have such a small mind that it can't be peaceful with the opposite race," she said.

"What makes us happy is that it can work in a community regardless of what color you are if training is properly given and if the character of officers is receptive to training, and you allow humanity to prevail."

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