So far, prosecution witnesses repeatedly have testified that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has rejected the concept of “excited delirium” as a valid medical concept for use by its police officers in confronting suspects.
On February 12th, however, Andy Mannix of the StarTribune reported that its public records request has discovered a recent MPD training video that teaches officers how to respond to excited delirium and using studies with “excited delirium” in the titles.
In this training video, Dr. Paul Nystrom, an emergency physician at Hennepin Healthcare and also a moonlighting MPD police officer, says officers should no longer use the words “excited delirium” to describe the real phenomenon and instead use a name like “severe agitation with delirium.” He also stated, “We all agree the entity exists.” But, says Mannix, not everyone agrees, especially the American Medical Association.
Dr. Nystrom, however, in the video criticizes “specialists” and “experts” who have rejected the science of excited delirium. “I wouldn’t go into an operating room and tell an anesthesiologist how to practice. Most of us [policemen] don’t appreciate somebody else getting in our lane when they don’t do the things we do.”
He also uses the same acronym used in the previous training—“NOTACRIME” to help officers remember how to identify the syndrome:” “N=Nudity; O=Objects (person acting violently toward objects such as glass or shiny objects).”
This new training has been endorsed by MPD’s Deputy Chief of Professional Standards, Troy Schoenberger, who said it meets AMA policy, including having a medical professional teach the course. He added, “This training was important in the transition away from the use of the term ‘excited delirium,’ while still recognizing that there are symptoms that officers may observe, along with his [Nystrom’s] recommendations as to how to properly care for patients exhibiting those symptoms.”
A contrary opinion on the new training was voiced by Dr. Michael Freeman, an associate professor of forensic medicine at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The new training, he said, is “window dressing” that fails to meet the AMA policy, and instead reinforces dangerous police practices based on shoddy research.
Also critical of the new training was Dr. Max Fraden of Hennepin Healthcare. “This is a change in name only. And the issue with excited delirium is not the name.” Last year Fraden and other hospital staff presented a petition to the its leadership to stop training law enforcement on the concept, and leadership responded by saying they had stopped such training in 2018 and any new training would involve “trauma-informed care” and anti-racist framework.” Fraden, however, said the new video “seems very opposed to what Hennepin leadership says their policy is.”
Mayor Frey’s office said it “will be reviewing with external medical experts what appears to be a failure to follow a directive,” and the Mayor has directed the department to terminate its contract with Dr. Nystrom.
1 Federal Criminal Trial for George Floyd Killing: Prosecution Witnesses (Part (I), dwkcommentaries.com (Feb. 2, 2022); Federal Criminal Trial for George Floyd Killing (Part (II), dwkcommentaries.com (Feb. 11, 2022).
2 Mannix, Minneapolis Police Department still teaching controversial ‘excited delirium’ syndrome—despite claiming it had stopped, StarTribune (Feb. 12, 2022),