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First responders undergo crisis management training

Mark Boyle | March 02, 2018

The scenarios are at times uncomfortable, heated and can be stressful

First responders are tasked every day with helping people in serious crisis and de-escalate those tense situations.

“It escalates people and it doesn’t build report with the community, so we’re trying to do is be proactive and say you know, these people are people with problems, not problems to solve, the people aren’t the problems,” said Sgt. Eric Frederic with the Colorado Springs Police Department.  “There’s so many crisis out there right now and it could be from a divorce, it could be from medical bills, it could be suicidal behavior, it could be PTSD, all those things that we’re seeing in this community, we’re teaching the officers how to de-escalate people using verbal skills, instead of going hands on and using force.”

The ability to defuse situations in a constructive way will also improve standing with police officers in the eyes of the community first responders said.

“It completely enhances our relationship, all of the officers on the homeless outreach team have been through this training and a large majority or certainly a fair majority of the people that we deal with experiencing homelessness do suffer from a variety of different mental illnesses, so that’s given the other officers and my team an opportunity to better understand them and connect with them on a different level,” said Sgt. Curtis Hasling with the Colorado Springs Police Department.

The training consists of 40 hours, half of which are role playing activities with first responders, including dispatchers.

“You want to talk to them, you want to listen to them, but at the same time, we have to get information for our officers because they’re either in route or going to get there soon, so we need to know if there’s weapons involved, but at the same time, I do want to hear that you are worried about your dog or that you lost your mother yesterday, I want to be compassionate to that,” said Jessica Rivera who’s a dispatcher, Colorado Springs Police Department.  “I think sometimes we just get so complacent or we get so ahead of ourselves because we do talk to so many people everyday that oh we know what this person wants, we know what they’re going to say, we know how to handle that but we have to take a step back and realize this is a different person different situation they might react differently or need me to react to them differently.”

With help from Aspen Point, the program is hoping to branch out to provide training for other law enforcement agencies from around southern Colorado.

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