The annual SC NAMI Conference was held this past weekend where NAMI members, consumers and their friend and allies came together from all over the state for education, networking and support. The conference featured a number of speakers including Dr. Kenneth Rogers from the GHS Marshal I. Pickens Hospital and Dr. Fred Frese from Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine.
Paton Blough of Rehinge and Lt. Stacey Owens of the Greenville Police Department gave a presentation on CIT (crisis intervention team) training. During the presentation, Paton and Stacey discussed the statistics and benefits of the local CIT program, and how it has helped to prevent injury for both parties, avoid arrests, and help mentally ill individuals receive the medical attention that they need. Along with the presentation, Paton helped in presenting a CIT training role play session, so that the audience can see a first-hand example of how a police officer with CIT training deals with a mentally ill individual during an episode.
This CIT session comes at an interesting time in the Greenville area, as on the same day a man at a local Walmart was experiencing an episode of mental illness or drug abuse and began to accost individuals at the Walmart. You can read more about the incident on the WYFF 4 website. When police arrived the man was tased and repeatedly punched by the police officers, resulting in controversial video footage of the incident. Proper CIT training for these officers could maybe have resulted in a much more desirable outcome, and force and violence could maybe have been avoided. CIT training is crucial in helping police officers serve the community in the best way possible.
Following is a video featuring Paton as he goes through a typical role play session for CIT, and how a police officer can help deescalate a confrontation without the need to resort to force or an arrest.