LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB)–As mental health issues continue to impact people of all ages in our community, one thing is clear. Our local law enforcement officers must be equipped to deal with all kinds of mental health crises. Deputies with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office are spending the week undergoing Crisis Intervention Training.
The training program is administered under a grant from the Florida Sheriff’s Association.
“It is to help law enforcement officers deal with people who have a mental illness, developmental disorders, or even some of those with neuro kinds of disorders like Alzheimer’s, autism,” said Dr. Joyce Carbonell, a CIT program coordinator.
Deputies in the program will receive 40 hours of specialized instruction from local behavioral experts.
“It also goes through exercises that really kind of gives them empathy in dealing with people who are in a mental health crisis,” said Sheriff Tommy Ford.
Those in training learn how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness, how to use de-escalation techniques, and how to find more resources for those struggling.
“Part of the purpose of this training is to improve the safety of law enforcement officers, improve safety for consumers, and improve safety for the community,” said Dr. Carbonell.
Upon completion of the week-long course, deputies receive a pin to wear on their uniform, allowing the public to know that they have mental health training.
“I think this is probably the 5th class we’ve put on so we’ve probably got over 60 deputies at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office in our patrol division that have been trained in this,” said Ford.
This week, the deputies will also speak with local resources like Life Management Center to learn how to work together to combat mental illness.