Saturday, January 30, 2010

Crisis Intervention Training should resume

An estimated 350 men and women attended this morning's People in Need Forum at MCC. The program was put together to provide information to interested and concerned residents who are, or want to be, volunteers in helping those in need.

More information will follow, but I want to comment on the presentation that closed today's event. That presentation was by two women from the McHenry County Crisis Line.

This is a service set up to respond to those who are in crisis and to those who call on behalf of a family member, friend or neighbor who is in, or approaching, a mental health crisis, and to provide information. It's okay to call the crisis line for information, which I think many do not know.

The Crisis Line phone number is (800) 892-8900.

The speakers mentioned Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) and that no training had been provided to law enforcement agencies in McHenry County in the past four years, because state funding had dried up. If State dollars aren't there, then law enforcement agencies need to budget money this training for their officers.

Surely, the Sheriff's Department could pay for it out of the millions of dollars of "profit" generated by the hotel for detainees at 2200 North Seminary. How much did the sheriff say he has added to the McHenry County coffers by his jail rental program? I think he called it a "dividend" to the taxpayers.

There aren't any "dividends" to taxpayers. The jail rental program is a profit center. I say, use some of the profits for necessary training.

Every sworn deputy and correctional officer should receive Crisis Intervention Training. And, no, they don't need a 40-hour program. Every deputy and C/O should have a basic 4-hour program and be educated about mental health warning signs and signals. A program could be videotaped to avoid costs of repeated live training. It could be web-based. It could even be just audio-recorded onto cassettes or CDs.

Would a deputy be willing to listen to it as s/he commutes to/from work? Then there wouldn't even be any on-duty time involved.

The Sheriff's Department is being sued right now for a death that occurred during a mental health call. The call went "south" really fast. Too many deputies in the immediate presence of the unstable person resulted in an escalation of his mental health state, resulting in his charging a sergeant with a knife. He was shot with a non-lethal weapon, but the multiple necessary shots resulted in his death.

When dealing with a mentally-ill person who is also intoxicated, the first order of business ought to be to de-escalate the commotion and disorder at the scene by reducing the number of deputies in the immediate vicinity of the unstable person and halt the shouting of multiple, possibly conflicting commands by too many deputies. One Crisis Intervention Trained deputy needs to be in charge and be allowed to control the scene.

This is essential training for deputies and police officers. Residents should contact their law enforcement agencies to request training for their officers and to ask when the officers will be trained.

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