Police officers in Troy and Rensselaer counties receive mental health awareness training
TROY, NY (NEWS10) – “Mental illness is not a crime, it’s a medical problem,” says Eric Weaver, a former Rochester police officer who now teaches other officers about health awareness mental.
Weaver taught a weeklong program, Emotional Distress Response Team Training, to officers from the Troy Police Department and other departments inside and outside the Rensselaer County. The Troy Police Department answered around 900 calls for someone going through a mental health crisis last year alone.
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Captain Matthew Montanino says most of the calls they answer are about a mental health crisis, but before they leave the police academy officers only take about 24 hours of mental health training. “Considering the times and age today, that may not be enough,” says Montanino. That is why the ministry created the Emotionally Disturbed People Response Team training in 2006.
“We hope this course will give them a better understanding of mental illness and what mental illness is so that they [police officers] can go out and recognize when someone is in crisis, then the goal is to give that person the help they need, ”says the captain.
So far, according to Montanino, nearly 85 of the 130 officers in the Troy Police Department have completed the week-long course which teaches skills such as de-escalation and suicide prevention. “Currently, New York State doesn’t require a lot of academy training on mental health issues. That’s why it’s 40 hours of training that agents use daily, ”says Eric Weaver.
The training officers receive in the course are not only intended for them to help the public they serve, but also to help themselves if they ever encounter their own mental health crisis.
“We’re working really hard to let our law enforcement officers know that help is available,” says Weaver, “they’re not afraid of what people are going to say. Recognizing the amount of trauma they experience in the 20-25-30 age group is extraordinary. ”
According to the Troy Police Department, they say they are the only agency in New York State to require such training for their officers.