LETHBRIDGE: A new Crisis Intervention Team is in place for the Regional Police force, with 10 officers receiving extensive training to properly deal with individuals who have mental health issues.
The 40-hour course deals with a number of topics including clinical issues related to mental illness, medications and side effects, developmental disabilities, suicide prevention, mental health diversity, personality disorders, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, alcohol and drug assessment and de-escalation techniques.
Sergeant Tiffany Housworth took charge of the local initiative, which was first developed in Memphis. She noted that while the training won't be for everyone, they will be adding to the current group, "We would like to continue to run classes at least annually, I'm hoping to do another one in the late fall and early spring, to keep enough of the population of our members who are currently out there on the street, so that if there's an incident like that, they would be the first ones that would be called to it."
Another important element of the program is a partnership with community groups like the Lethbridge Shelter, Alberta Works, Alberta Health Services-Seniors Mental Health, Canadian Mental Health Association and YWCA. Housworth goes over why it was crucial to have those organizations involved, "If there's a problem you're better off to find the resources to try and find some kind of long term resolution than to keep responding to the same thing over and over again. And that person can learn techniques to cope with their situation or get the proper medication, get the proper treatment. And so they'll be less likely to have these kind of crisis incidents in the future."