State and local law officers are participating in some special training in Story County this week designed to help them deal with unstable people in a stable manner. Gene Deisinger is the commander of the Special Operations Unit of the Iowa State University Police Division and is leading the “Crisis Intervention School.” Deisinger says the week-long school is an outgrowth of the Story County Crisis Intervention Team. He says the team is a group of law enforcement officers that’re in psychological crisis intervention skills to help people with mental illness or who’re in distress to resolved the situations more safely. Deisinger says the school goes beyond the basic crisis skills taught to all officers. He says the state police academy provides some fundamental training orientation in mental health issues — but he says this is much more in-depth — with officers spending about four and a half days learning the skills. Deisinger says officers across the nation are coming in contact with people with mental illness or in distress more and more as they do their jobs. He says law enforcement has become just about the only “24-seven” response in many communities and he says those officers are frequently the first point of contact for a person with mental illness. Deisinger says the school helps officers deal with the crisis while protecting everyone involved. He says the training is focused on “verbal de-escalation skills.” He says they find with the proper application of those skills the vast majority, though not all, cases can be resolved without the use of force. He says the officer always has to be aware of their limitations to allow them to make the best possible choice. Deisinger in addition to being a peace officer, is a licensed psychologist and a certified health service provider in psychology. The school is being hosted in Nevada this week by the Story County Sheriff’s Department.
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