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Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office thanks specialized training for successful mental crisis call last week

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Posted at 8:10 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 21:10:54-04

LAFAYETTE — Last Monday, Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department's deputies responded to a rare call in Scott from an individual informing deputies that he was attempting to harm himself with a weapon. Upon arrival, the deputies saw the individual who made the call standing outside of his residence in possession of a weapon.

"It was recognized by the deputies that he was in a mental crisis and they were able to devise a plan, with his cooperation, to actually pin his hand down with a rope and disarm him," says Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber. "The whole call lasted more than ninety minutes and they actually just talked to him for about an hour and a half, so it was a very good outcome for what otherwise could have led to the use of deadly force."

Sheriff Garber says that previously, deputies who arrived to a situation where an individual was armed with any type of weapon were also expected to retrieve their weapons as a way to defend themselves if needed. Now, the academy in which Sheriff Garber trains his recruits uses specialized training and tactics to assess the situation and attempt to deescalate it.

"Now what we are doing is we are taking a tactical pause, we assess the situation and if we have the opportunity to give someone space we will give them space, but that is not always possible due to the actions of the person," says Sheriff Garber. "We try to contain the situation, communicate with them and find out what the issue is and how we can come about a creative and helpful solution."

Sheriff Garber says that the call on Monday was a perfect example of deputies using basic techniques and skills they learned in this sort of training.

Critical Decision-Making Model
Use of Force Continuum Example

"It was a culmination of mental health for corrections and enforcement, suicide prevention, the recognition of mental illness, deescleation and scenario training and definitive tactic scenarios," he says. "Those all came together to create an agency culture that I am very proud of."

While the deputies do receive this specialized training to be able to respond to and properly manage a mental crisis situation, Sheriff Garber wants to remind the public that they are not trained health care professionals and they can only do so much for a person in that state. Which is why the LPSO has partnered with the Beacon Network, a non-profit organization that offers resources such as counseling and rehabilitation to people struggling with mental illness.

"They can help people get the services that they need to get better on the back end of things," says Sheriff Garber. "Instead of resolving the immediate problem, we officers need to look a little further into it, which is why we work with Beacon Network very closely."

And as for his deputies who responded to the call on Monday, he couldn't be more proud of the way they handled the situation and were able to get the individual the help that he needed.

"This is a perfect example of something that could have gone way worse," he says. "If it wasn't for the extraordinary amount of patience and creativity from the deputies, it wouldn't have ended this way."

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office encourages anyone who feels unsafe to call 911 and ask for assistance, but if you are struggling with mental illness and are seeking resources, to please reach out to the Beacon Network at 800-397-1630, or visit their website for a list of services provided.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or the Suicide Crisis Hotline at 800-437-0303. If you'd rather chat with a counselor via text, you can text the word HOME to 741-741.

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