Cops get more training in dealing with mental health.
New training requirements for Minnesota’s 11,000 police will be significant for some departments but not so groundbreaking for others.
The new mandates from the state call for 16 hours of training every three years for each officer in conflict deescalation, mental health response and implicit bias – skills La Crescent police chief Doug Stavenau doesn’t believe his officers entirely lack.
“I’m happy to say that I think all along we’ve been doing a lot of deescalation and other type of approaches,” Stavenau said. “Because of our size, a lot of times, we’ll have one or two officers on duty and there is not necessarily a backup that can come and help you if you’re in immediate crisis.
“You have to figure out early on how you’re going to deal with it and keep the situation in control enough that you’re not going to get exposed to injury.”
It’s also something that police forces, including Stavenau’s have familiarity with on a day-to-day basis.
“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a new topic,” Stavenau said. “We recognize that mental health issues are probably one of the driving reasons for addictions, substance abuse and even kind of responsible for some of the criminal acts that occur.”
The training, being funded by the state legislature, is in addition to the professional continuing training requirements for police that are already in place in the state.
“Historically, the training dollars we received never did cover the actual costs,” Stavenau said. “But it is an improvement from where we were at.”