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First responders focusing on mental health and crisis intervention at MSU training facility

Posted at 6:59 AM, May 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 06:59:50-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Friday marks the end of a week-long crisis intervention training hosted by the Michigan State University Police Department aimed at teaching law enforcement and security officers from all over the Tri-County area how to de-escalate situations through mental health education and negotiation tactics.

The first half of the week was spent in the classroom discussing community resources for people in crisis and how to communicate through different types of crises. Friday, officers were tasked with using what they learned in the classroom to de-escalate a series of dispatch scenarios acted out by fellow officers and volunteers. In one of the scenarios, two officers were dispatched to a man after received calls he had doused himself in gasoline and was going to ignite it.

The officers entered the scene and were observed by CIT instructors.

The officers entered the scene and were observed by CIT instructors.

“I’m going to guarantee that whatever was going through your head before I walked through that door, that’s a very permanent solution to a very temporary problem,” Bath Township K9 Unit Officer Michael Lapham said during his training exercise.

Sergeant Kimberly Parviainen of the MSU police is one of the crisis intervention instructors on-site, helping officers focus on building a connection with people in crisis to defuse the situation

Sergeant Kimberly Parviainen

“As you did work through it with him and you built that empathy with him and that rapport, he puts the gas can down and you recognized that,” Parviainen said to one of her trainees.

Katelynn Bennett is a night shift patrol officer for the East Lansing Police Department who says this training was eye-opening for her.

This training was eye-opening

“It's more than just a problem-solving thing, you’re not just going in there and asking what’s wrong and solving it. You’re going into these homes and these apartments and business and talking to these people and putting yourself in their shoes,” Bennett said.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth was one of the actors in a demonstration for the training. For Wrigglesworth, having so many different community members and law enforcement agencies together helped everyone learn something new.

“This shows that we’re always trying to be better, to do better,” Wrigglesworth said.

Through their partnership with the National Association of Mental Illness (N.A.M.I.), more than 350 certified Crisis Intervention Team officers in the greater Lansing area are exposed to scenarios acted out to demonstrate signs of multiple mental health conditions like excited delirium, suicidal ideations, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We started a steering committee that pretty much involved N.A.M.I., community mental health and law enforcement and we developed the training,” National Association of Mental Illness Lansing’s President Kevin Keeler said.

This session’s training class included members of all Tri-County area police departments, hospital officers, public school resource officers, and animal control units as well.

“This is not just law enforcement."

“This is not just law enforcement. This is for anybody in the community in that role that would have the occasion to come across somebody in crisis,” MSU Police Captain Chris Rozman said.

Captain Rozman also says the community officers involved in Crisis Intervention Training have to apply and over the past few years, the program has gained popularity across all community departments.

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