Crisis-Intervention Training Comes in Handy as Cops Respond to Threat

Orlando Sentinel

By Jason Ruiter

Mental-health professionals teaching Clermont police crisis-intervention techniques Thursday put their training into practice.

Two employees from LifeStream Behavior Center, Lake County’s mental-health provider, at the Clermont police headquarters responded alongside a SWAT team to a possible suicidal man who had locked himself inside a business on State Road 50.

The situation ended peacefully.

“Before they even finished the training, they were able to see the benefit of a licensed clinician so close at hand,” Clermont spokeswoman Doris Bloodsworth said.

The department is involved in a two-year pilot program in which a licensed clinician can attempt to divert offenders from jail to a more appropriate medical or mental-health solution. The clinician, who will be on-call, will come out to the scene after officers’ have determined its safe.

The program has not yet been launched.

“They helped us change up some phrasing we were using over the loudspeaker to see if some other phrases might work better,” Clermont police Sgt. Shane Strickland said.

In the end, however, police were forced to make entry into the business in a shopping center at State Road 50 and Bloxam Avenue. No one was injured and no shots were fired, Strickland said.

“He’s conscious,” Strickland said. “It ended easily.”

The man was taken to South Lake Hospital in Clermont for evaluation after the incident was quelled just before 2 p.m.

Police received a call from concerned family members about the man before noon, adding that he was on drugs.

About 40 percent of offenders in the Lake County Jail were identified as having substance-abuse problem, mental illnesses or both in 2014. Providing mental-health or substance-abuse treatment is less-expensive than incarceration, officials said.