The Yakima Police Department, along with several other law enforcement agencies in the valley are participating in a 40-hour crisis intervention training program this week at the Moxee Police Department.
In cooperation with Comprehensive Healthcare, designated crisis responders and police are getting in depth training to help them better understand mental illnesses and options on how to work with persons suffering from mental health conditions. The class gives officers the tools they need to deescalate situations and engage in conversations with people they're helping, and steer them in the direction of local resources for long term success.
Josh Mears with Moxee Police Department is participating in the training. "There's a lot of situations where I didn't know what to do for them later," said Mears. "I helped them now, but how am I going to help them tomorrow? And I just didn't have those resources, and this training has provided that, has provided that continuance of help for them for the long haul."
Officers from Yakima Police, Selah Police, Zillah Police, Cle Elum Police and Washington State Patrol gathered at the Moxee Police station for the collaborative training.
Morgan Grant, law and justice liaison for Comprehensive Health Care, helped organize the training program in the valley.
"What this training is about is community and success when we respond, and how we can connect, and we can maintain a sense of compassion and empathy and resources that are available to really focus on what the issue is," said Grant. "It's not about just placing somebody into a hospital, or into a jail. It's about ensuring that they have resources available."
Local nonprofits, such as Yakima's National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter, Consistent Care and Union Gospel Mission worked with police to put this training program together.
"One of the really important tools is an engagement of conversation with people, and to be able to support them, and try to identify what their crisis may look like and really listen to them, and then steer them in a direction that won't be short-term," said Grant. "But is aimed for long-term, for stabilization, so that people can return back to a normal lifestyle and contribute to our community."