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Officers graduate from training for handling mental health issues

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Some area law enforcement officers celebrated today the completion of special training. Some say recent situations involving police force would have turned out differently if officers would have gone through this course.

The story about a police officer shooting and killed an 18-year-old schizophrenic boy in Boiling Spring Lakes made national headlines.

“Had he properly been approached, I believe that situation would have turned out totally differently,” said Stanley Oathout, president of the Wilmington Chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

Oathout thinks would have gone differently if the officer involved had gone through crisis intervention training.

“I’ve found that, unfortunately, that shooting has driven an awful lot the desire to train,” Oathout said.

Oathout says he’s seen the direct benefit of crisis intervention training. Course evaluator Christopher Smith couldn’t agree more.

“As a school resource officer, I’ve used the techniques taught in cit in a plethora of situations,” Smith said.

Including situations where officers are dealing with a person with mental illness in crisis.

“Talk to the individual; teaching you to communicate better with them to try and avoid situations where you have to use force,” Smith said.

This is the 22nd class that’s graduated from the 40-hour program

School resource officers say this training will let them gain a better understanding.

“It allows us to recognize the signs and symptoms,” said William Kittlaus, a Pender County SRO.

That means before a crisis can even occur, this training could make all the difference.

“This training can make a valuable difference between confrontation and getting this person proper care,” Oathout said.

Officers say they hope all their colleagues can eventually go through this course.

More: continued here

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