Colorado POST Strikes “Excited Delirium” from Police Training Documents

Advocates have long been critical of the diagnosis, which was mostly a law enforcement term used to characterize suspects acting hyperactive or agitated during police encounters.

Colorado’s law enforcement officers will no longer recognize “excited delirium” after a state regulatory board voted to strike the controversial diagnosis on Friday from all training documents starting in January.

The move, which was passed at the state Peace Officers Standards and Training board meeting unanimously and without debate, comes as two Aurora paramedics face felony charges for giving Elijah McClain an overdose of ketamine, in part, because they believed he was suffering from the condition.

Advocates have long been critical of the diagnosis, which was mostly a law enforcement term used to characterize suspects acting hyperactive or agitated during police encounters, Colorado Public Radio reports.

A handful of prominent physician groups have also sharply criticized the term since George Floyd’s 2020 death. In 2021, the American Medical Association said that current evidence doesn’t support the diagnosis at all. In April, the National Association of Medical Examiners called for its members to stop using “excited delirium” as a cause of death. And in October, the American College of Emergency Physicians withdrew one of its earlier research papers on the subject and disavowed the term.

State officials also voted to strike other terms from law enforcement training manuals, including “cocaine psychosis” and “sudden in custody death.”

“Students will learn and understand procedures for first aid and transfer to medical care of subjects who are in custody,” the state document said. “The students will learn and understand law enforcement roles in violent encounters with subjects in altered mental states or a justifiable medical emergency.”

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