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Eau Claire Police implement quarterly training on mental health crisis situations

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 4:41 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Police more and more often are reporting to situations other than crime, such as mental health crises. This week the Eau Claire police introduced a new training program for their officers in regards to handling these calls. WEAU was able to sit in on some of the training.

As Police Chief Matt Rokus explains, it’s known as integrating communications, assessment, and tactics, or ICAT.

“ICAT as a training model was developed in 2016 by the police executive research forum it intertwines mental health training and police tactics training so we can slow situations down and de-escalate situations with people experiencing crisis.”

In a combination of online learning and scenario-based training, officers learn how to de-escalate situations. As Lieutenant James Southworth explains, officers sometimes find people just need someone to listen.

“Dealing with people in mental health crisis is a daily situation for us,” Southworth said.

“Our training needs to reflect our community’s values,” says Rokus.

ECPD’s proactive approach gives structure to what officers say they’ve been working toward.

“When we talk about de-escalation strategies we have been doing that for a number of years now when we go to calls we try to find different ways to resolve situations as peacefully as we can,” Southworth said.

It’s an intentional step away from traditional use of force training.

“26 years ago when we were in recruit school we were taught if someone was within 21 feet of you with an edge weapon or a club that was considered deadly force. Now there is much more than goes into that … those are the types of things that have changed for the better,” Southworth says.

It’s a modern approach,

“The sanctity of life needs to be at the center of everything we do,” Rokus said.

To one of the oldest professions.

A 2020 study conducted by the University of Cincinnati found that ICAT training did successfully teach officers to view persons in crisis in a more understanding manner, therefore creating safer interactions

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