By Kate Gaier
GASTONIA- Gaston County graduated its first class of law enforcement officers from a crisis intervention training program on Friday. They said the group is now better trained to handle calls with a person suffering from a mental illness.
It was a room of law enforcement officers ready to hit the streets, with a little more training under their belts. The group just completed crisis intervention team training.
“They’re involved in scenarios and situations that teaches them how to use appropriate approaches to de-escalate situations with people with disabilities,” said Karen Creech, with Partners Behavioral Health Management.
After 40 hours of training, they are better equipped to handle someone suffering from mental illness.
“We’re seeing more and more in our society of people with mental illness problems,” added Gaston County Sheriff, Alan Cloninger. “The better trained our officers are in dealing with those folks who are in the crisis or a point of their life they may be a danger to themselves or others, it enables to better serve the public and that individual.”
Sheriff Cloninger said he’d like to see every one of his deputies go through the training. And learn how to better handle any situation.
Deputy Julie Stillwell completed the class, which exposed her to more resources she can use to help someone suffering from mental illness.
“A mentally ill person likes to think of themselves as a normal person,” said Deputy Stillwell of what she learned through the training. “And they want to be normal. So they can sometimes fool you with their actions just to make you go away.”
Nineteen officers with Gaston County and Gastonia Police, along with deputies from the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office went through the training. They are hoping to have a second class later this year.
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