TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Throughout this week, 25 officers from 13 different departments attended the week-long Lucas County Crisis Response Team training. The training helps law enforcement prepare and learn how to handle situations when dealing with people who may be suffering from mental health issues.
Robert Kasprzak works as a coordinator for the Lucas County CIT. He says his goal is to help officers learn techniques and find resources to help them better adapt to situations they may encounter.
“We want to redirect people who have any of these conditions and get them to the right place,” he said. “Because taking people to jail because they have a mental illness or an intellectual disability is not the right place for them.”
Oregon Police Department Chief Brandon Begin says about 70% of his department is CIT-trained, and he hopes to increase that to 100% by next year.
“Things have changed over the years, and we try to do our best for the community.” He said. “We know there are a lot of mental health issues in the community, and we want to be prepared for that.”
For the final day, trainees were put through their paces, as volunteers from Harbor, a mental health and addictions treatment organization, gave officers a taste of what to expect faced with these situations.
“They come here and they do these role-playing games, and they really play out real-life situations.” said Kasprzak. “And they ask officers to come and demonstrate their skills.”
Linsey Bishop has worked for the port for over a year now, she says the training is the closest thing officers can get to real life situations.
“The goal is for them to come out feeling like they have a bit of an idea of what it’s going to be like or have an idea. Some people, unless they work with the mental health population, don’t really know not what it’s going to look like until it happens.
She says a workout like this can sometimes seem silly, but it can make all the difference.
“People are struggling and suffering right now. Mental health is at an all time high. It’s great for them to be able to find resources in a community, especially in a situation where they need someone to answer.
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