Thursday, October 03, 2013

Sometimes All You Have To Do Is Ask

I've been away lately but so much came along with me while I was gone and gave me so much to think about. For starters, I have been doing a lot of reading on CIT's (Crisis Intervention Teams) in lots a communities across the U.S. in place to help people in a mental health crisis. They work as a team alongside the police department and facilitate the mentally ill person's commitment to a mental health facility and they diffuse any situations that might arise between the police and the mentally ill person. It sounded to me like an absolute luxury and thought something like that existing in my small town of country boy type policemen and a lot of sort of back woods thinking about many aspects of life in this town (not from the police necessarily but from other officials in the town) was not going to be a possibility.

I was wrong.

My mom and I went down to the police department the other day to dump off extra prescription drugs we didn't need anymore and I thought about all I'd read and I went up to the window and asked the question I thought I already knew the answer to. What came back surprised me.

As it turns out my back woods, slow to change, limited in their thinking in a lot of ways town, have a crisis intervention team of sorts. I was dumbfounded and formulated my question a couple different ways to see if I got the same answer and the answer continued to come back a "yes".

What we have is a small group of officers who went through hours of training to handle the mentally ill. I said,

"Well, that's great but are they going to give someone in the middle of a mental health crisis a chance before they start drawing guns and doing threatening things?"

The lady assured me that they were no matter how I came at her with questions about what it would be like in a volatile situation. I envisioned Thomas scared and angry and shouting about his delusions and I pictured the police "shooting first and asking questions later" and when directly asked about that she said that she was confident that the officers were trained for situations like that.

Honestly, I was shocked. Completely shocked. I never in a million years thought that we would have something like that. She went on to tell me that when I called the police department that I needed to immediately fill them in on what was going on with Thomas, his diagnosis, his behavior, his fears, his delusions and they would treat Thomas with as much caring and respect as they could while taking him in to custody if needed or diffusing the situation if that was all that needed.

The moral of the story here is this. I didn't think we would have something so forward-thinking in my town and all it took was a trip to the police station and some well thought out questions and scenario's to find out that in fact they had the very thing that I wanted. So what I want to impart to all of you is to ASK. Go down to your police department personally. Show your face, the love and concern for your loved ones. Ask direct questions and be respectful of them. I think a lot of your will be like me, surprised at the end result.

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