By RICK CURL
Of The Record Staff
Sheriff’s employees from two counties completed training that will give them new insight into what in the past has been a difficult situation.
Deputies from Harnett and Lee counties graduated from a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training in Lillington Friday afternoon. The class was designed to give deputies and dispatchers a better understanding of people they may comes across in their daily activities who have mental health issues.
“They learned a variety of behavioral health issues, how to deescalate crisis and the resources available in their communities,” said Marilyn Gilliam, Justice System clinical liaison for Sandhills Center. “They have been wonderful. They’ve been a great, great group and we’ve learned lots from them as well.”
The course was centered around awareness as well as how to best approach situations that previously the deputies may have mishandled simply because they weren’t fully aware.
“We learned many areas,” Harnett County Sherriff’s Office Training Coordinator Lt. Scott Jeffries said. “We learned there’s a difference between mental health issues and people with autism, for example.”
Lt. Jeffries said the class helped to change perceptions and give the officers the tools to help situations become successfully resolved with the best interest of everyone involved.
“There’s a misconception that people with mental health issues are maybe illiterate or maybe not intelligent then we met a lady with a master’s degree,” he said. “It’s a big, broad spectrum. We found mental health issues don’t attack one person. It’s not age related. It’s not gender related. It’s not intellect related.”
Participation from Harnett County Sheriff employees comes as part of an initiative by Sheriff Wayne Coats.
“The sheriff has really been adamant about getting everyone through,” Lt. Jeffries said. “This is a major undertaking and takes about six or seven months to put this together and it will take another two years to get everyone certified.”
With Friday’s graduation from the program, almost 40 of the employees have received the training. It’s training that will have an immediate and frequent place among the graduates’ duties.”
“We brought an evaluator in that’s certified already, for about 18 months,” Lt. Jeffries said. “I asked him how many times he’s used the training and he said a least a dozen times. The need is there almost daily for officers to utilize this training.”
Members of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office completed a 40-hour course on dealing with people who have mental health issues. Posing for a photo are Dominic Alvarado, James E. Cook, Ethan Core, Brandon Davies, Walter Eason, Betty Ellis, H. Scott Ellison, Cpl.
Brian Hayes, Cpl. Debra Hardison, Jeremy Howard, Marty Ivey, Paul Stradley, Kendra Smith, Joshua Tindal and Lt. Scott Jeffries.
Daily Record photo/Rick Curl