MCSO: Crisis intervention training helped resolve Penfield standoff

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PENFIELD, N.Y. (WROC) — Deputies involved in the 24-hour standoff in Penfield this week say Crisis Intervention Training helped them de-escalate the situation.

Police first responded to a house in Penfield on Monday when the Department of Corrections reported an uncooperative parolee, Benjamin Smith. He’s now facing multiple felony charges including arson, five counts of attempted assault on a police officer, criminal possession of a weapon, and criminal mischief. He’s also facing a parole violation.

Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies say the standoff situation was intense but they were finally able to talk to Smith through a window to get him to surrender. Major Lou Tomassetti said 37 deputies are certified in Crisis Intervention Training and he hopes to double that number.

“Naturally our first goal in a case like this is public safety and this individual demonstrated right from the get go that he was not willing to cooperate,” said Tomassetti.

He said Smith was throwing molotov cocktails and shooting arrows at police. They said he had several gas cans and was threatening to hurt himself and police with fire.

“We tried several methods of communication with this individual and really the one that ended up working best was really talking to him through a window.”

Tomassetti said all deputies go through mental health training in the academy but some also volunteer to go through the Crisis Intervention Training program.

“There are so many populations out there,veterans, the elderly, mental health situations, it gives them tools in their toolbox to de-escalate and to engage.”

Smith was previously convicted of federal gun crimes  in 2014, arson in 2016, and criminal mischief in 2012. Some of those charges are related to an incident in 2015. At the time, police said Smith admitted to trying to burn down the Masonic Temple on Church St. in Pittsford.

“We knew right away it was the same individual from the masonic temple case in October of ’15. Our goal is to deliver this person to the people he needs to be delivered to and hopefully he gets the help he needs.”

Tomassetti said since two of the charges are C felonies there will be no bail for Smith once he’s actually arraigned. He said Smith is at a local hospital now getting treatment. After his treatment, Smith will be arraigned and held in the Monroe County jail until his next court appearance.

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