WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & SportsUPDATE: Law enforcement officers complete crisis intervention training

UPDATE: Law enforcement officers complete crisis intervention training

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Local police officers participate in role-playing activities while undergoing training for Crisis Intervention techniques. Local police officers participate in role-playing activities while undergoing training for Crisis Intervention techniques.

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The mental health community says law enforcement agencies are taking the steps to make help people suffering from mental health issues.

They say new training will benefit the entire community.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and the Chattanooga Police Department completed training for the crisis intervention team.

The training is designed to help spot and assess people suffering from mental health issues who may find themselves in a situation involving police.

"In the past there would be a tendency to arrest people who seemed erratic and programs like this the officer learns how to deal with the situation," says Rick Mathis, Director of the Ochs Center.

Mental health officials say it starts with simple things, like how to address the people they call consumers of mental healthcare.

"I'm not sure what they've called them in the past, but it's a better than perpetrator or criminal," says Mathis.

Around one Friday afternoon, Chattanooga Police were called to Patton Towers. Police say a resident had pulled a gun on a security guard and refused to come out of her apartment. It was determined the woman was suffering from a mental crisis.

C.I.T. training gives officers the tools to make those determinations.

"I believe that some of the events that we never hear about is because of the dedicated officers who are trained in how to assess situations and how to intervene with them without them escalating out of control," says Brennan Francois.

Francois is the CEO of Parkridge Valley.

He says the training benefits the entire community even saving money for taxpayers.

"I believe our mental Health consumers have needs met by officers because they can make assessments of the needs truly are," says Francois.

The fourth class of graduating students will utilize their newly acquired skills in Hamilton County, Chattanooga,  the UTC campus , Bradley County, Cleveland City, Collegedale and Red Bank.  Also represented were Chattanooga State, the Chattanooga Housing Authority and 911 Dispatch.

Psychologists and medical experts from the Chattanooga VA Clinic, Parkridge Valley, Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute, Orange Grove Center, Joe Johnson Mental Health Center, Rosewood Center, the TEAM Center, the Murfreesboro VA Hospital, and Pine Ridge Treatment Center were among those serving on panels. 

Officers participated in role-playing exercises to best learn how to handle volatile situations. The experts offered advice in how best to keep a potential crisis from spiraling out of control.  Topics included substance abuse, cultural differences, verbal techniques, domestic disputes and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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