A major challenge: Dealing with potentially unstable members of the public. This week, local officers got some unique training in dealing with those unsafe situations.
Officer Josh Wallace name of the Northampton Police Department deals with situations like this daily:
“I called the cops” an actress yelled during training Friday. “You called the cops?”
She played the part of a mentally ill woman who refused to take her medications and police officers are charged with safely descalating the problem.
“We try to get them an overall background of understanding how mental illness occurs, how it’s treated, how medications can be successful but can also present side effects that are worse,” Major Tom Grady of the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department.
Officers attending the conference heard from experts and family members of the mentally ill throughout the week. Officer Wallace says it’s time well spent.
“Someone without this training who goes to a call with someone with mental illness and deals with it the wrong could end up seeing, you know, a different side of that person and having to deal with it in that short, quick, violent action,” Officer Wallace said.
“Why did you call the cops in the middle of the night, Davey?” the actress asked again Friday as the fake situation continued with role playing officers.
In this scenario, everyone stayed safe. The same goal officers say they have a better chance of achieving on the street with their new training in hand.
Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless hopes the training will make officers more understanding, and at the same time allow those they are dealing with to get the help they need.