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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Rethinking - Retraining Law Enforcement Officers in Dealing with the Mentally Ill

LAWRENCE AND ORANGE COUNTIES - MAY 20, 2022 - Lawrence and Orange County law enforcement officers took 40 hours out of their busy schedule to learn about Crisis Intervention Training or (CIT).

Local law enforcement officers took special training to work for better outcomes and support for the mentally ill

When the officers themselves first started out in the course, some did not know what (CIT) really was. However, on Friday afternoon the officers came away with more knowledge in dealing with those experiencing a crisis and breakdown.

Mental illness affects people of all ages and backgrounds and one of the first ones having to deal with these occurrences is emergency personnel and law enforcement.

According to Orange County Sheriff Josh Babcock says the course is designed for law enforcement to help them recognize and how to deal with the mentally ill.

Orange County Sheriff Josh Babcock

" It is important officers take the extra 20 -25 minutes and talk to these individuals. Instead of making them do something. Sometimes we do not do that," said Babcock.

" We were previously trained " You ask them, then tell them, then make them," you cannot apply that style today. You got to be a little more concerned, be able to talk to them, and be concerned about what is troubling them at the moment,"

In incorporating this style of policing is harder on smaller departments because of the lack of manpower and it's hard to be tied up on these types of calls. In the case of Orange County, they have only 7 road deputies, and one is a detective. The majority of the time there is only two deputies on duty at a time. Usually, the department is hustling from call to call.

" In reality you do not have the time to spend on these types of calls, unless you get another officer from another small town to help back you up or take your calls for you," Babcock added.

In the case of Orange County, you take them to the Orange County ER for evaluation which can take up to 10-11 hours. After this, if the person is emergency committed by a judge sheriff's departments are court ordered to do the driving to the other hospital. Right now, that can be Plainfield, Lafayette, or Owensboro, KY and this also takes a lot of time away from the sheriff's department and take the officers out of the county on these types of transports.

" At this time there does not seem to be enough beds, and this ties up both the hospital and sheriff department staff. So, there is a lot of things that we have to get around to get these people the help they need,"

" This what makes it important to try to get these individuals to go to treatment on their own and make it their idea of needing to go. This eliminates the need for emergency commitment orders and the need for sheriff's department having to do the transport," said Babcock.

The training conducted is the first for officers in Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, Orange County Sheriff's Department, Indiana University Health Hospital Police Department and Indiana University Police Department.

This course was designed so officers who attended can instruct other officers on how to handle these incidents. This program is going to be expanded throughout the two counties.

The expansion will include emergency departments, and other emergency responders jail officers, dispatchers, and volunteer fire departments to be able to facilitate better outcomes and support the mentally ill.

The graduates from this week's CIT Training included:

  • Lawrence County Sheriff's Department - Calvin Callahan

  • Lawrence County Sheriff's Department - Brenton Trueblood

  • Orange County Sheriff's Department - Zachary Andry

  • Lawrence County Sheriff's Department - Gregg Taylor

  • Indiana University Police Department - Gunner Ortlieb

  • Indiana University Health Police Department - Robert Herr

The CIT program might be expanded to court personnel, emergency department personnel and volunteer fire departments.

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