16.135 - Excited Delirium

Effective Date: 6/19/2013


This policy applies to the Department’s response to subjects who appear to be suffering from excited delirium. Excited delirium is defined as “A state of extreme mental and physiological excitement, characterized by extreme agitation, hyperthermia, hostility, exceptional strength and endurance without apparent fatigue” (Morrison and Sadler, 2001).   

1. A Sergeant and at Least Two Officers Shall Respond to Each Call That Appears to Involve a Subject With Excited Delirium

2. Officers Shall Address the Medical Crisis Immediately After the Subject is Under Control and the Scene is Secure

3. Officers Shall Complete a General Offense Report Documenting the Incident

The report should include:

  • Signs and symptoms observed, particularly the subject's:
    • Altered Level of Consciousness
      • Paranoia, hallucinations
      • Extreme agitation, disorientation
      • Shouting or keening (animal noises), unintelligible speech
      • Panic
      • “Bug eyes”  – eyes wide open
      • Insensitivity to pain
      • Bizarre and/or aggressive behavior
    • Hyperthermia (overheating)
      • Sweating, hot to the touch
      • Seeking water
      • Inappropriate attire or no clothing
    • Danger to Self or Others
      • Violence towards others
      • Unexpected physical strength and stamina
        • Even to the point of damaging self
      • Violence or attraction to glass, reflection or lights
        • Including Emergency Vehicle Lights
  • Actual body temperature reading (to document hyperthermia, which is a significant indicator of excited delirium), if available
  • Any other vital information (pulse rate, blood oxygen level, blood temperature, etc.), if available
  • Elements of the criminal offense, if applicable
  • Witness information, if applicable