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Local law enforcement holds crisis intervention program

Area Emergency Personnel began their annual, week-long Crisis Intervention Program today which focuses on safety in terms of mental health.

Speakers from around Southeast Idaho visited the Pocatello Police Department today to discuss how to best handle situations involving people going through a mental crisis.

“We have several different instructors that come from all over the region and deal with and talk about a lot of different issues,” Pocatello Police Department’s Lieutenant Roger Schei said.

This is the fifth year the police department has held its week-long program, bringing law enforcement officers and other organizations from across the region out to the police department. This includes: sheriffs from Oneida County, Madison County, Bannock County, the Portneuf Medical Center, and various speakers.

Lt. Schei said this training is crucial when officers are faced with potentially dangerous situations since their goal is to use as little force as needed by effectively communicating, while keeping the officers’ safety as a priority.

“A lot of it is the deescalation tactics on finding people’s hooks and triggers, and finding what works when dealing with folks that are having a mental health crisis,” Schei said.

The Portneuf Medical Center has been working extensively with the local law enforcement, teaching them effective techniques.

“Law enforcement is faced on a daily basis with what could be a mental health crisis at any time,” PMC director of Behavioral Health Sciences Dr. Charlie Assand said. “Whether that be suicidal issues or someone whose psychosis may have gotten out of hand.”

“We’re dealing with a lot of cuts to mental health so our officers need to have better tolls for their toolbox when they’re dealing with people who are having a mental health crisis,” Schei agreed.

But despite cuts to mental health still on the legislative table, Assand says he is “ecstatic” to have already seen a difference in how officers handle patients with mental health issues since the program first began.

“I have seen greater patience, I’ve seen them have greater empathy, and I’ve seen them have a greater sense that these individuals really are suffering from an illness rather than just acting out,” Assand said.

Schei also mentioned this program does not cost the agencies involved anything at all.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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