COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Training is critical for law enforcement. The men and women need to be able to serve and protect the community while thinking about their own safety, too.
Mental illness is one of many things officers need to be analyzing while on a call.
The South Carolina chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness hosted Crisis Intervention Training in
Columbia this week.
Members of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, Columbia Police Department, and South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy took part in the 40 hours of training.
"I'm giving them a tool to work with," Fred Riddle, director of Crisis Intervention Training for NAMI South Carolina said. "It's something else they can put on their belt and have it for their knowledge."
The five-day Crisis Intervention Training covers several topics, including mental health diagnosis, treatment, suicide, substance abuse, de-escalation, and tactical safety.
"One in four people in America has a mental illness, so all of us interact with people with mental illness every day," Donna Briemann, Crisis Intervention Training coordinator for NAMI of South Carolina, said.
For the final day of training, participants take part in role-play scenarios. The officers and deputies are put into situations they may end up in while in the field.
For example, one scenario involved a veteran who wouldn't leave a bookstore and told officers he was homeless and living under a bridge.
None of the role-play scenarios involved the person suffering from mental illness having a weapon. In some real-life situations, that does happen. Throughout the training, officers are talked with about what to do if someone has a weapon.
"Police officers make a decision in a very, very few seconds about their safety, and I've never met a police officer who didn't want to go home after a shift," Riddle said.
The goal is for officers to be able to identify mental illness and help the person to a treatment center, rather than jail.
"We give them a lot of resources on what they can do to help the family and help our client," Riddle said.
Crisis Intervention Training takes place throughout the state, as a way to help law enforcement and the mental health community.