FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Franklin County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Northwest Florida Health Network to train deputies to deal with children suffering from mental health issues.
“Helping them just get some more tools in their tools belts in dealing with that front line response where criminal justice system and behavioral and mental health intersect,” NWF Criminal Justice Specialist Christina Bertera said.
She said these resources are useful, given the recent increases in childhood trauma.
“Finding that law enforcement is coming more and more in contact on those front lines with the behavioral and mental health things that are happening and we’re asking them to do things that are outside the wheelhouse of law enforcement,” Bertera said.
Sheriff A.J. Smith wants his deputies to be considered role models by the children in the community and believes this training will help with that goal.
“We deal with a lot of kids that have trauma and we need to be able to identify when we are dealing with a child like that,” Smith said. “This training is going to enable the deputies to respond to that quickly and appropriately.”
NWF said the deputies were very receptive to the information they received. Smith believes continual training is key to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office’s overall identity.
“To be better, we have to continue to train, we have to look for new ways and I think this partnership with Northwest Florida Health Network is opening the door to do even more things,” Smith said.
The NWF training included modules about the effects of trauma, what the deputies can do to handle it, and ways to recognize trauma within yourself and other people.
Deputies learned new techniques to properly interact with a child who may be agitated because of some type of mental trauma.