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East Central Mental Health trains police in first aid

On Thursday, East Central Mental Health completed a groundbreaking Mental Health First Aid training course for the Troy Police Department.

The eight-hour training course was conducted at the Troy Police Training Facility on four days to accommodate all officers and was facilitated by Teresa Kidd, ECMH community outreach coordinator.

“This training course gives officers the tools to identify when someone might be struggling with a mental health or substance use problem and the information needed to connect them with the appropriate support and resources when necessary,” Kidd said.

One in five Americans has a mental illness but many are reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care, she said.

“Unlike physical conditions, symptoms of mental health and substance use problems can be difficult to detect. Even for family members, it can be hard to know when and how to step in. As a result, those in need of mental health services often do not get them until its too late.”

Lt. Bryan Weed with the Troy Police Department said that if it’s difficult for even a family member to know when mental health and substance use problems are present, imagine how difficult it is for a police officer to know and especially under stressful and/or threatening situations.

“Issues that are drug and mental health related are magnified in today’s world,” Weed said. “It’s not possible to always know when your are confronted with a person that has a mental health diagnosis or a drug problem. Troy Police Chief (Randall) Barr and ECMH are doing a great service to our department and to our community by offering this training.”

Weed said the overcrowding of jails and prisons is possibly a contributing factor to the large number of people with mental health and drug related issues who are on the streets.

“And, some of these people don’t need to be in jail,” he said. “They need professional counseling and maybe medication.”

Weed cited an incident when a subject was uncontrollable and the officers were in a precarious situation.

“The subject had a loaded gun and, luckily, we were able to separate him from the gun and get him in a restraint chair,” Weed said. “That situation could have ended differently. Knowing what to do and how best to get it done when faced with a situation involving a person with probable mental health or substance abuse issues is extremely important for police officers. 

“Knowing could save your life or the lives others,” Weed said.

The Troy Police Department has 56 officers and a large number of them are young, Weed said.

“I’ve been with the Troy Police Department for 13 years and was with Troy University Police before that,” he said. “I’m in law enforcement because I love Troy and I want to make a difference for my hometown.”

Weed said most law enforcement officers are in the “business” for the same reason.

“We need to have the best tools available so we can do our job and do it in the safest possible way,” he said. “We appreciate East Central Mental Health providing this training for us and for our community.”