Crawfordsville Police Officers Take CIT Training

Mar 10

Last week, Cecie and I had the opportunity to speak at the Lafayette Police Training Center to officers who were taking Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. We were pleased to see that two officers from the Crawfordsville Police Department, Tony Bowen and Sargent Jeff Line, were receiving the training. NAMI-WCI provides the training. Approximately 35 law enforcement officers were present.

On Monday, I served on the family members panel. On Wednesday, Cecie served on the consumers panel. We both talked about our experiences with law enforcement, explaining what we think they did right and what they could have done better when dealing with incidents involving mental illness.

During the consumers panel, a couple tips were mentioned that could be useful for consumers and family members. One of the people on the consumer panel mentioned that she wore a medical bracelet that instructs medical personnel to check her purse for additional information. In her purse, she has card that contains the names of her doctor and therapist, medications she takes, and family contacts. If officers arrive at the scene, they can find out quickly from her bracelet and the card she carries that she has bipolar disorder, they’re less likely to arrest her and more likely to contact her doctor or a family member. At home, she keeps a folder that includes a psychiatric advanced directive.

Other members of both panels shared that they always tell the police immediately of their diagnosis. Of course, this isn’t always possible, particularly for people who haven’t yet received a diagnosis or are so out of touch with reality that they can’t tell the officers who arrive at the scene what’s really going on.

Also, one of the trainers described a communication technique that can often be helpful for both law enforcement and family members in de-escalating a situation. She said that the natural tendency when confronting someone with mental illness is to mirror what they do. So when someone is manic and starts talking faster, we talk faster. When they talk louder, we talk louder. She suggested that instead, we do the opposite and model the desired behavior. When the person talks faster, we should talk slower. When the person talks louder, we should talk softer. When we want the person to calm down and breathe, we should calm down and take a deep breath and release it slowly.

2 comments

  1. Jolene Ott /

    Thank you Joe, for the information. I am glad to know this & wish I could’ve gone. Now I know who I can call on in case. I know Tony & I would feel comfortable having him escort my mom if need be. As we have had to go this route 4X!!!!! I AM LOVING THIS WEBSITE & will be using it more.
    See you guys Thursday.
    Jolene

  2. Leah Rochelle Kunkel /

    I think all police officers should be trained to recognize symptoms and enforce immediate medical care for those with mental illnesses. I commend the two officers who attended this training without instruction to do so

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