‘Treated rather than arrested’ in police de-escalation program

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In a role-playing part of the class, an officer shows how to kindly disarm a man who is having an unstable swing in his thought patterns. (Photo Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)

In a role-playing part of the class, an officer shows how to kindly disarm a man who is having an unstable swing in his thought patterns and who might unintentionally hurt another person — or himself. (Photo Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office)

The prospect of policing reform hinges on training of police officers and sheriff’s deputies. Training in de-escalation is the key to saving American lives and ending the cop-caused bloodbath that has plagued a submissive American population for decades, with bodycounts begun only in recent years. In 2016 American police and deputies took 1,163 lives without the benefit of a finding of guilt of a capital crime by a jury.

Cops kill about 1,200 American men, women and children a year. De-escalation is a partial remedy to the deadly proof of the power of the modern executive state with its legally protected class of military enforcers. De-escalation reforms are a good start. In Chattanooga the program is voluntary for the officer, whose training still focuses largely on the use of lethal force and threat and the mantra of getting home at the end of the shift, with risk and peril not absorbed by a noble-hearted public servant, but offloaded upon members of the public. — DJT

David Tulis and David Buck of Chattanooga Autism Center talk about de-escalation training in Hamilton County that draws 25 to 30 law enforcement people a year to a 40-hour voluntary class. (Courtesy Noogaradio.com)

The Crisis Intervention Team program is an innovative, proactive law enforcement-based approach to addressing issues surrounding the treatment of persons with mental health issues.

By Sheriff Jim Hammond

It is a collaborative effort and partnership between law enforcement, the mental health community, consumers, and consumer advocates that trains and equips officers to respond effectively to individuals with mental illness (consumers).

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Chattanooga Police Department have committed jointly to offering CIT training to officers who volunteer for the 40-hour specialized training. The law enforcement-based training teaches officers how to take a more personal and educated approach with people who have mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and lack of medication issues. A big part of this training is the officers’ use of verbal de-escalation. The training also consists of classroom instruction, site visits with mental health consumers, and role play.

The CIT program which the HCSO has adopted was developed in Memphis in 1988 and is known as the “Memphis Model.” Founders, Sam Cochran and Dr. Randy Dupont, developed the training to assist those individuals with mental illness and improve the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members, and citizens within the community.

Since its 2009 inception in the Hamilton County and Chattanooga area, the OCHS Center for Metropolitan Studies in Chattanooga has confirmed the achievement of some of the major objectives of the CIT program:

  1. Decrease in use of force, especially SWAT;
  2. Decrease in officer, consumer, and civilian injuries;
  3. Decrease in arrest rates for individuals with mental illness and
  4. Securing outpatient treatment for the consumer.

Also, consumers being treated rather than arrested and incarcerated have resulted in improved interactions and relationships between law enforcement, consumers and their families, and the community as a whole.

David Tulis and Dave Buck of Chattanooga Autism Center explore the problems of police training that bring abuse upon autistic and mentally disabled people across the U.S. (Courtesy Noogaradio.com)

Officers trained in de-escalation techniques live out the local economy ideal of voluntary relations rather than violent, compulsory acts, many of which in the past have killed and maimed. (Photo Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)

Officers trained in de-escalation techniques live out the local economy ideal of voluntary relations rather than violent, compulsory acts, many of which in the past have killed and maimed. (Photo Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office)

The CIT curriculum is delivered over a 40-hour week of intensive training provided by volunteer mental health professionals, advocates, and CIT trained law enforcement officers.

The training consists of classroom lectures, site visits with consumers leading discussions, and scenario based de-escalation skills training using role play exercises. The training is to ensure law enforcement awareness of mental health resources and to address attitudes and stigma regarding mental illness. The CIT training includes the following blocks of instruction:

  • Introduction of Clinical Issues
  • Psychotropic Medication and Side Effects
  • Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorders
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Suicide Intervention
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • Legal Issues and Mental Health Law
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Borderline and other Personality Disorders
  • Community Resources, including training on assessing or requesting crisis services

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