Police cadets to get training on mental illness

Posted at 10:44 PM, Apr 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-08 00:44:34-04

SANDY -- The agency that trains police cadets in Utah is looking at expanding its curriculum for officers on recognizing signs of mental illness.

The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council began looking at expanding how much training is given to cadets on recognizing and responding to mental illness issues. At its most recent meeting last month in southern Utah, POST Council debated how much training is necessary.

Currently, police cadets receive only four hours of "crisis intervention training" or an equivalent, said Scott Stephenson, the executive director of POST. A 40-hour course was proposed, but considered too much of a burden for health care providers and trainers.

But some, like POST Council Chairman and Layton Police Chief Terry Keefe, feel the training is important for cadets. Keefe told FOX 13 that often the first people to go out on patrol and interact with mentally ill people are rookie officers.

"We don't know if we're dealing with someone who is bipolar or schizophrenic or has another mental issue," he said. "But this training, if we can prepare them on how to recognize the symptomatic behavior they're experiencing and what they can do to diffuse the situation, will only prepare those officers."POST already offers a class on excited delirium, in response to the 2009 death of Brian Cardall, who was having mental health problems and was Tasered by police and died on a road outside Hurricane. The council is now looking at beefing up existing training on mental illness.Stephenson said the council is likely to approve between eight and 16 hours of training. The POST Council will vote on the issue in June.