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EPS commended for how its officers deal with crisis situations

Watch above: A national study has praised Edmonton police for the way they work with the mentally ill. The Mental Health Commission of Canada says most police services across the country need to improve how they interact with people in crisis. But two programs in Edmonton should be used as models. Fletcher Kent has more.

EDMONTON – The Edmonton Police Service is receiving national recognition for its specialized training that helps officers safely deal with people in crisis.

The praise is featured in a recent report to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police from the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

EPS is specifically being recognized for working with community partners to develop a mental health training program for officers, along with a Police and Crisis Team which has helped officers successfully resolve mental health-related calls on a daily basis.

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“This is one of the most important issues facing police agencies currently, so it is crucial that we are as proactive as possible and get out in front of it,” said Chief Rod Knecht with the EPS.

“Every day, our front-line officers come face-to-face with people in crisis situations, so we need to provide our members with the appropriate tools to effectively recognize and deal with those suffering from mental illness.”

Last year, the EPS teamed up with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine to launch a training program for its officers with the goal of helping them recognize situations involving mental health issues.

The training EPS members receive involves actors role-playing realistic mental health scenarios to help members improve empathy, communication skills, and the ability to de-escalate a tough situation. The successful pilot program has now become part of regular training.

“With a better understanding of those who suffer with mental illness, we can quickly identify the issues during an emergency call, de-escalate the situation, and reduce the likelihood that force will have to be used,” Knecht added.

“If we can safely prevent a person from doing harm to themselves or to others, and get them into the appropriate care and services, then we have succeeded.”

More to come…

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