How Crisis Training for Police Officers Evolved in Georgia

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Former Georgia police officer Robert Olsen attended 40 hours of crisis intervention training in 2009, six years before he killed Anthony Hill. In Olsen’s case the training didn’t work, but law enforcement isn’t giving up, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Agencies continue to work with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) to train officers how to recognize those suffering from mental illness, problems of addiction. and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and autism. In 2004, a group from NAMI approached GBI about bringing a national program to agencies across Georgia, Director Vernon Keenan said.

Lt. Daniel Lindsay, who traveled more than 200 miles from the Moultrie Police Department, said his training in 2010 changed his career. He now volunteers to train officers to avoid or minimize use of force when possible. Keenan admitted he wasn’t 100 percent sold on the training when it was first proposed more than a decade ago. Still, Keenan encouraged chiefs across the state to send officers to the first class. “No one wanted to be involved in the touchy-feely, sensitivity-type training,” he said. When an officer approached Keenan with feedback after that initial class, he knew then how crucial CIT was. “A supervisor told me he was ashamed of some of the things his department had done in interacting with the mentally ill,” Keenan said, but would now take what he had learned and go back to his department to change the way the officers did business.

 

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