Local law enforcement trained in crisis intervention
MEDINA – About a dozen law enforcement officers in Orleans County took a week-long class last week in crisis intervention, learning techniques to de-escalate situations with people suffering a mental health issue.
This is the second time the class has been offered in the county. The first was about two years ago. There are now about 30 officers trained through the program, which was funded with a state grant by the New State Office of Mental Health. State Sen. Robert Ortt is chairman of the Senate’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. Ortt has been a strong supporter of the program, which has been offered throughout the state.
Medina had two officers take the class last week. Police Chief Chad Kenward said the techniques have been used in the field, and have helped officers recognize a person with a mental health issue and better respond to the crisis.
“It has helped us to talk them down from hurting themselves and others,” Kenward said after the class’s graduation ceremony on Friday afternoon.
The state has been funding a Crisis Intervention Team Training Program for law enforcement officers to better understand the myriad of mental health issues, and to learn strategies to de-escalate a potentially volatile situation.
A goal of the training is also for police to connect people in crisis with treatment, rather than jail, when appropriate.
Sheriff Randy Bower said the skills through the program has helped reduce the inmate population at the county jail, and better connect people to the help they need.
“It has helped us to better serve the people we are tined to protect,” Bower said.
Dr. Don Kamin, a clinical psychologist and instructor in the program, shared many scenarios and strategies with officers to help them identify if a person if in a mental health crisis and how to lead them to accept help and not be combative.
We went over different disorders and how officers can recognize those and respond to people in distress. The class reviewed behavioral health issues such as trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide assessment and intervention, excited delirium, anxiety and emotional distress. Officers learned communication skills with a focus on de-escalating the crisis.