'It’s critical that we give them the training. Many of these situations are suicidal people that we encounter. In this course, officers are given the skills to effectively communicate with these people to prevent suicide.'
(TNS) — Twenty-three men and women from Cambria, Somerset and Bedford counties graduated on Friday after a week of training by the Laurel Highlands Region Police Crisis Intervention Team.
The program, held at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College in Richland Township, included classes on suicide prevention, mental illness, strategies to de-escalate situations, dealing with juveniles and specialty courts.
“It’s critical that we give them the training,” said Kevin Gaudlip, Richland Township police detective and event coordinator. “Many of these situations are suicidal people that we encounter. In this course, officers are given the skills to effectively communicate with these people to prevent suicide.”
Police officers, 911 dispatchers, corrections officers, EMS personnel, probation officers, crisis intervention teams and others participated.
State Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Ferndale, said the week-long program should be made mandatory for all those attending the police academy.
“I’ve seen in my position as a former police chief (in Ferndale) how easy it is to de-escalate the situation,” he said.
Windber Mayor Mike Thomas, a former police officer and former manager of security at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, said learning to de-escalate a situation when someone is in crisis is critical when working in the field.
“It doesn’t always work, but it gives them another tool,” he said. “Many times they are able to take care of the situation without an arrest, without going hands-on.”
Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.
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