WA Officers Train in Mental Health & Substance Use

Spokane, Washington Officers Train in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Officers in Spokane, Washington will receive training to educate the force on issues related to substance use disorder and mental health said this article in the Spokesman Review. There are many officers on the job who are not knowledgeable of treatment related to substance use disorder. For example, some officers do not understand why methadone is used in substance use treatment. Methadone is popularly prescribed to help wean those who were struggling with addiction to heroin. The prescribed treatment helps those who used heroin by administering small amounts of opiates in order for the body to safely detox.

Currently, 13 officers are working towards educating themselves on substance use disorders and mental health. They volunteered to undergo more than 60 hours of training so that they are better equipped to help when responding to calls that involve persons who struggle with addiction or mental illness. Officers that attended the training were joined by mental health providers.

“Officers say a better understanding of mental illness and local services helps them build rapport, act more compassionately and defuse tense situations.” The training has been named “enhanced crisis intervention team training (enhanced CIT), which is aimed at enhancing previous 40 hour CIT courses that officers have already received.

Officers that received the enhanced training were selected from “different shifts” to ensure that there would be a trained officer to handle substance use or mental health situations at any given time.

Three intense days were spent in the classroom where officers learned about mental health illnesses and symptoms to look out for. They were also given the tools necessary to communicate effectively should they encounter a call with mental health or substance use disorder issues.

Those that completed the training believed that it helped them in understanding how to properly handle someone who struggle with mental illness and the laws that they must abide by as professionals.

Spokane Police Department has continued to prepare to hold these trainings on a volunteer basis. Additional funding is necessary to continue to hold the program. No word yet on how those funds will be raised.

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