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Temple police participate in training to recognize, respond to mental health crises

Posted at 10:31 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 23:31:07-04

The cases are one after another across the county, including here in Killeen recently when a local man was killed by a police officer during a mental health call.

It’s now causing law enforcement to confront mental health and it's why Temple police officers are going through a 40-hour extensive training course.

The training is an effort to improve their skills and learns ways to recognize and respond to mental crisis.

“A lot of the videos that are shown on the news, we see them here. We get to go through and figure out what could we have done differently,” said Temple Police Department Officer Cody Close.

“It’s more important than going out to the firing range and making sure that you’re able to shoot your gun,” said Burleson County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Intervention Deputy Shawn Edwards.

Mental health experts from Cedar Crest hospital in Belton perform the real-life scenarios including suicide prevention, diffusing hostage situations, confronting people in a manic state and more.

Edwards with the Burleson County Sheriff's office is in charge and he said more departments are requesting help statewide.

“Communicate and talk with an individual way more times than you draw and use your weapon. I think it’s important that we have officers that are able to communicate and de-escalate,” said Edwards.

Ten of the 16 officers in the training are from Temple PD. Officer Close has already completed classes about crisis negotiations, critical incident training and stress management but said this course is more realistic while expanding her knowledge of mental health.

“The biggest thing that I’ve taken away from this class are the resources of where I can send people for the help they need,” said Close. “If they aren’t necessarily going to hurt themselves or somebody else but if they want help and they don’t know how to get the help I can now say ‘hey this is the process that we need to do let’s go ahead and start it.’”

Local police officers say the training is giving them the confidence and tools they need to be ready to handle mental health calls.