With special training, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office does their best to make sure officers are prepared for anything. When a call comes, responding officers never know exactly what to expect when they arrive.
In some cases, the call may be to the home of a mentally ill person having a breakdown. LSO treatment program manager, Marie Collins, says that it is not uncommon for an officer to encounter a mentally ill person. She tells KLFY’s Carly Laing, that in response to the growing issue, crisis intervention training is now a requirement for all officers, “It protects the offender and protects the staff and so it makes for a safer environment all the way around.”
According to Collins, officers go through an intensive training course, sometimes for upwards of 40-hours. During this training, officers learn how to evaluate if someone suffers from a mental disorder, how to talk to them, and when to use force.
“So not just walking up to the situation and assuming they’re just being argumentative or just being difficult but if they are in fact have a mental illness.”
Collins says that the Sherriff’s Office plans to have the entire department trained through the program, “Certain staff is prioritized based on what their interaction is with the offenders, so those deputies would be our first line of defense.”
30% of people in Lafayette’s jail and diversion programs suffer some sort of mental disorder ranging from depression to schizophrenia.