Fort Oglethorpe Police Department Hold State-of-the-Art Crisis Training | Catoosa Walker News

You are a police officer and you have received a call for disorderly conduct. You find a belligerent man, screaming, lashing out at anyone who approaches him.

In the past, says Captain Gary McConathy, director of training with the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department (FOPD), “you would probably have arrested the man and taken him to jail.”

But times are changing and FOPD embraces change. From March 5-9, FOPD hosted a week-long Crisis Response Team (CIT) training from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

McConathy coordinated the training attended by six members of the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department as well as members of the Ringgold Police Department, Calhoun Police Department, Chatsworth Police Department, Dalton City Police Department , Dalton College Police Department, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department, and Georgia Department of Community Services.

“The training is based on the Memphis model,” says McConathy. “It was developed after a mentally handicapped man in Memphis was killed by police officers.”

In the above scenario, rather than immediately deciding to arrest the belligerent man, McConathy says the CIT is training the police to try and defuse the situation verbally, by showing empathy, by asking questions, by giving to man a chance to share his problems.

“There is also training to help officers recognize potential issues that could be contributing to the behavior,” says McConathy. “Maybe the man has post-traumatic stress disorder. He could be schizophrenic or have a mood disorder or other condition that affects his behavior. He could be diabetic or have another medical problem. . “

McConathy says that even personal crises or tragedies can cause people to act in ways that could land them in jail – divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job.

CIT teaches officers not only to recognize possible problems and defuse potentially violent situations, but also to find help for people so that they don’t end up in jail – to work as a team with resource providers. intended to help people in crisis. “We can talk to family members, find out who a person’s doctor is, and arrange for them to see them,” says McConathy. “We can partner with mental health workers and rehabilitation services and send people to places where they can get help, like the Veteran’s Administration or Lookout Mountain Community Services. Sometimes peer support groups are a good option.

Lookout Mountain Community Services assisted with crisis training by providing guest speakers to address issues affecting adolescents. They also helped officers see situations from a family’s perspective and provided information on community resources.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for almost 28 years,” McConathy says, “and this is one of the best training I’ve ever had.”

Fort Oglethorpe Police Chief Mike Helton said his goal is to see all FOPD officers complete the 40-hour course over the next 18 months. “We are here to serve and protect people,” he said. “It expands our ability to serve.”

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