The need to assess the mental status and intentions of individuals has become a routine requirement of law enforcement officers nationwide. More often than not, they are the first responders in situations involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis. As a key component of situational awareness, officers need to quickly recognize when a person is experiencing a mental heath crisis, and have the verbal skills necessary to ensure both officer safety and the safety of an individual in crisis. This ground breaking book, provides information on the various mental health disorders, treatment options, violence risk assessment, gun violence, innovative verbal de-escalation skills, and situational awareness. Also includes, self-help information on stress management, officer resiliency, critical incident recovery and emotional survival. In his work, Richard Crino, co-designed Rhode Island’s first crisis intervention program for law enforcement officers known as CRT.
Richard Crino, RN, CTR, is currently a behavioral health specialist with an extensive background in emergency mental health and crisis response services. He is the lead trainer for the RI Behavioral Health Disaster Response Team and is a critical incident consultant for various police departments in in his home state of Rhode Island. Mr. Crino has co- designed and currently facilitates RI’s first certification program for police officers in crisis response, and provides various workshops on violence prevention, self-defense, stress management and crisis intervention for various behavioral health organizations and corporate settings. Additionally, Mr. Crino is a US Army veteran trained as a clinical specialist. He is has authored several books including: To Serve Protect and Survive – Stress Self –Defense for Law Enforcement..
Every day while performing their duties, law enforcement officers come into contact with individuals experiencing mental health crises. Responding to a person on the street throwing a brick through a window, or an inmate requiring restraint for suicidal actions, is a common occurrence. Officers are frequently involved in challenging and potentially dangerous situations involving people in crisis.
As a registered nurse specializing in behavioral health and crisis intervention, I’ve dedicated a good portion of my professional career to training law enforcement officers in mental health awareness and crisis intervention. I decided to specialize in this area after looking at the lack of training information on mental illness provided by many law enforcement organizations nationwide. This made little sense to me, as interacting with the public and providing crisis management is a daily expectation of the job. Finding Common Ground provides innovative verbal de-escalation techniques, mental illness awareness ,officer safety education and stress reduction tips to assist officers in maintaining psychological wellness.
Finding Common Ground
Good communication with the person experiencing a crisis is crucial. The more disorganized the person is, the more organized an officer will need to be. It is also important to help all individuals experiencing a crisis to regain focus. An officer can accomplish this by asking the person to focus on their voice and/or by repeating supportive statements. Once the officer makes contact, it is important to reassure the individual that he or she is safe and that the officer is there to help. It’s also important to give the person time to express their thoughts and concerns. In fact, it’s better if the person expresses their feelings slowly. Rapidly expressing feelings and thoughts during a crisis can impede the recovery process. It’s important to let the person tell their story, if they are willing to disclose it. However, forced discussion in a crisis situation is not recommended. As long as the person is not threatening, aggressive, or presenting a danger to themselves, time is on the side of the officer. Officers also need to remain calm in voice tone and volume. Raising one’s voice (without anger) is okay, as long as it occurs in an effort to gain the person’s attention. While an assessment of a person in crisis usually begins with an evaluation of what he or she says, physical movements (facial expressions, posture, and mannerisms) are also important. Remember, using situational awareness to assess for potential violence should not beoverlooked
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