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Area officers training to deal with mentally ill
by Adam Elrod
aelrod@neighbornewspapers.com
September 10, 2013 05:05 PM | 1182 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Area law enforcement personnel recently learned how to interact with the mentally ill to better handle situations they could face while answering calls.

The Hiram Police Department hosted the crisis intervention training, said Police Chief Todd VandeZande.

“It is to educate officers that may come in contact with someone with a mental illness,” VandeZande said.

He updated the Hiram City Council on the training at the council’s meeting last week.

The training material was created by the Memphis Police Department in 1988, he said. The one-week program was attended by Hiram officers, Paulding County Sheriff’s deputies, Georgia State Patrol officers, Douglasville police and Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies. There were a total of 15 spots in the course.

“It has to stay small because of the exercises you have to do,” he said.

Attendees go through role-playing exercises, visit the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center to observe subjects dealing with mental illness and are taught by instructors who work in the mental health field.

There is no charge to the officers who attend and the cost to host the training is about $500, VandeZande said.

After this year’s event, 15 of the 17 certified Hiram police officers have gone through the training.

“There is a need for it as long as you have officers who have not gone through it,” he said.

VandeZande said the training helps teach officers to de-escalate situations, gives them the ability to identify someone with a mental illness and teaches them how to assist instead of incarcerate those with an illness.

Hiram Mayor Doris Devey said she sat in on the training when Hiram police hosted the training session last year. She praised the department for the effort because it helps give the officers specialized training.

“They are always learning a different phase [with the more training they receive],” Devey said.

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