Mental health experts offer their own “tools” for police departments

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local police departments could soon use a new tool when dealing with people with mental illnesses.

Mental health experts say they’re giving police a different kind of tool to use and training officers to know the signs when coming across someone with a mental illness.

Earlier this week several departments learned about the BolaWrap. It’s a tool to help restrain people. Law enforcement agencies across the country have been using — particularly in situations involving those with a mental illness.

The company that makes the BolaWrap says mental health advocates don’t endorse a product to be used but that instead agencies promote crisis intervention training.

Jessica Stuewe with Crisis Services say since they’ve started training officers they’ve seen less use of force being used. She says they teach officers to use certain words or phrases to help calm a person down.

“Teach like trauma informed approach and how to use statements to build connection with someone in order to de-escalate and bring it back down so they can actually help the person,” said Jessica Stuewe, crisis intervention team training coordinator.

Stuewe says about 600 officers have gone through crisis intervention training, some as recently as last week.

She says Crisis Services partners with other groups including the National Alliance on Mental Illness here in Buffalo. She says they work with about 25 different police departments in Erie County.

Stuewe says they continue to train officers even in the police academy. For more information about these trainings visit here.

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