Eighteen representatives from Upper Cumberland law enforcement agencies completed training this month learning how to handle crisis situations.
The 40-hour program was facilitated by Volunteer Behavioral Health in Cookeville. Director Anne Stamps said officers strengthened deescalation and communication skills to lower arrests of those suffering mental illness.
“The skills that are presented and learned and role played for the officers, I think they can use those not just on a call, but just dealing with life everyday,” Stamps said.
Stamps said participants worked simulated real-life cases to build techniques . Stamps said the classes also covered how to approach people with intellectual disabilities, addiction and veterans.
“It helps them understand some deescalation and effective communication,” Stamps said. “In no way am I saying our law enforcement officers do not have that. This just enhances their current skills. I am really excited about it. I thought it was great.”
Stamps said the overall goal is to place more people in treatment rather than jail. Stamps said law enforcement representatives from Cookeville, Livingston, Sparta and several more attended. Stamps said on completion, participants are eligible to become “Crisis Intervention Team” certified.
“A lot of the mental health consumers are familiar with CIT, so I think that will be an advantage for both the law enforcement officer and the consumer,” Stamps said. “When they come up and introduce themselves saying ‘Hi, I’m a CIT Officer with the city of Cookeville.’ It’s a wonderful opportunity for folks who are in a crisis situation they may not need to go to jail.”
Stamps said the group tries to host the training twice a year. Stamps said the goal is to reconvene in October at the new Cookeville Police Department. Stamps said the program was developed out of Memphis.