Olmsted County and Rochester Police Department team up for crisis intervention training

[anvplayer video=”5067150″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – Olmsted County puts on Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) once a year. The program started in 2007, but some feel it’s relevant now more than ever.

"To get the skills that our officers need there’s nothing more important than that right now," Olmsted County Sheriff’s Captain James Schueller said.

Rochester police officers and sheriff deputies completed four days of lectures and role-playing to help them focus on verbal de-escalation skills. The county brings in professional actors to simulate real people in crisis. Some of the actors were screaming and crying, and were pretending to have a mental health or drug crisis.

"We are literally simulating behaviors that they’re seeing on the street. It’s a safe and structured environment so that they can fail and learn from those mistakes," said Erin Roberts, an on site actor-coordinator.

"They’re very talented so they make everything very believable," Deputy Sheriff Matthew Norland said.

Their goal is to resolve the situation and offer help without using any force.

"What we wanna see in the role-plays is being able to have empathy for the person and the situation that they’re in," Schueller said.

Trainees avoid closed body language, shouting and antagonizing behavior.

"It’s exhausting. You feel like you’ve been actually accomplished something and you’ve been able to help somebody," Norland said.

Once calmed down, authorities can refer the person to other mental health or rehab facilities.

"A lot of us aren’t aware of that until we go trainings like this that there are these resources out there," he said.