Andrew Mills - Chief of Police - Santa Cruz

Put a football helmet on your head, grab some drumsticks and pound (lightly) on the helmet with the sticks while someone is talking to you. What do you hear? You hear the pounding of the drumsticks of course.  A person hearing voices in their head hears the sound of drumsticks, not you. So how does one deal with a person having a psychotic break or a person hearing voices?

This week SCPD will begin de-escalation training for community members. The idea of the exercise is to help educate community members who are forced to confront people challenged with mental health issues.  Students will learn to de-escalate the conflict until the police can arrive and take over.  It has been our experience that confrontations occasionally get amped up into a physical confrontation due to a lack of knowledge, and training in de-escalation.

Don’t feel bad, the police have lived this experience thousands of times and have only recently learned to de-escalate mental health problems through Critical Incident Training and now Tactical De-escalation. While the police are not perfect in our handling people in crisis, 1/3 of all police shootings are people with mental health problems, we are getting better and now pass some of what we have learned to community members. I want to be clear, not all confrontations can be de-escalated, and we are not asking community members to proactively attempt to confront people in crisis or place themselves in jeopardy.  This training is for when a crisis finds you. 

In de-escalation training, community members will learn how to assess the symptoms of a disorder and put distance and objects between the person having an episode and themselves. Attendees will receive hands-on practical learning to distinguish between a mood and thought disorder and how to use tactics to improve personal safety.

6-4-18 Project SCPD_22_preview (2)_LI

Yes, it’s scary to deal with people in crisis, however, learning to build a safe space while a person is in crisis will only make you safer. In doing so, we promote Safety Through Vigilance.

The first class is completely full with a waiting list, and another is planned for August 14, 2018.  You can sign up by contacting Carter Jones at cjones@cityofsantacruz.com or calling my office at (831) 420 5810.

For more visit NAMI

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