New mental health training program for detention officers - FOX34 Lubbock

New mental health training program for detention officers

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"The training itself is scary, you could work the business for 15 years and never find yourself in that situation... an inmate who is suicidal, to an inmate that is mentally breaking down, having delusions..." Sgt. Rebecca Thompson of Midland county said.

A new program in Lubbock county is giving detention officers the tools to help inmates in crisis, especially ones suffering from mental illness. 

The need for this training now is more important than ever.

"What we've experienced is a spike in individuals with mental illness who are being incarcerated. I think everybody needs this training because everyone has to deal with crisis individuals in jail," Capt. Ryan Braus of the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office said. 

Participants say the program is challenging but rewarding.

"It's given me more confidence to go in and deal with you know, someone who has IDD or you know, some sort of mental health issue," Lt. Martha Ward of the Garza County Sheriff's Office said.

"To actually sit there and listen you know it has helped me greatly. You can sit there and listen and it can eliminate a lot of problems," Maurice Taylor, an officer at the Lubbock County Detention Center, said.



Maurice Taylor, an officer at the Lubbock County Det. Center, watches a role-play scenario


On Thursday, students put their newly-learned  skills to the test. During realistic role-play they had to calm an "inmate" down, without using force. 

Representatives from both Hockley and Garza counties also underwent training.

"The stuff that we're learning here, we can take back to show our officers. You know, explain to them, about the resources," Ward said. 

"Doesn't matter how small the agency is. They still deal with the same problems that we deal with," Braus said.

The students were not just tasked with dealing with "inmates."

In a surprise final scenario, there was a "suicidal officer", to address the growing number of suicides among the men and women in uniform.

"These techniques can be used to talk to anybody, it's all about the way you talk to people," Thompson said.

"When you're able to help that one person, help them get through a situation, that's extremely difficult for them, that's the reason people go into law enforcement... is to help people," Sgt. Jonathan Rowler of the Lubbock County Detention Center. 

There will be additional sessions of the program in June and November. 

These "master trainers" will also travel to hubs across Texas and the rest of the country to share the lessons in other detention centers.

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