Posts in Published Media

KMBC Kelly Eckerman interview with Paton Blough – Keynote Speaker at CIT International 2018

August 20th, 2018 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 0 thoughts on “KMBC Kelly Eckerman interview with Paton Blough – Keynote Speaker at CIT International 2018”

August 14, 2018 

KMBC Kelly Eckerman Interviews Paton Blough

 

KMBC Kelly Eckerman interviewed Paton Blough before speaking at the annual CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) International Conference in Kansas City, MO this past Friday, August 17th. This conference marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of CIT. More than 1,000 law enforcement officers, peer support specialists and mental health professionals from around the world attended the conference. 

Following his keynote address, CIT officals honored him with an appreciation award for all that he has done for the futhering CIT and mental health reform.

“I’ve had no higher honor as a mental health and criminal justice reform advocate than to have been selected to speak at this conference,” said Blough. “It is a privilege to be able to address some of the world’s most dedicated workers and advocates for mental health reform.”

About CIT International

CIT International is a non-profit membership organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate understanding, development and implementation of Crisis Intervention Team CIT Programs throughout the U.S. and in other nations worldwide in order to promote and support collaborative efforts to create and sustain more effective interactions among law enforcement, mental health care providers, individuals with mental illness, their families and communities and to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Learn more at citinternational.org.

About the CIT International Conference

The CIT International Annual conference, which takes place in August of each year, draws approximately 1,000 people largely from the law enforcement, behavioral health, and advocacy sectors.  There are over 100 workshops related to topics involving the intersection of law enforcement, mental health, and criminal justice fields. Learn more at citinternational.org/events.

Jermaine Massey tragedy sparks efforts for CIT Training through Greenville County Council

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 0 thoughts on “Jermaine Massey tragedy sparks efforts for CIT Training through Greenville County Council”

April 9th, 2018

Fox Carolina wrote an article this evening reporting today’s Greenville County Council Public Safety Committee Meeting, made up of 5 county council members. The purpose of the meeting was to help build CIT for the Greenville County Sheriffs Office in order to prevent tragedies between law enforcement and individuals in crisis. 

The policy suggestions for the Public Safety Committees consideration included:

  1. Asking the GCSO to appoint a command staff deputy to become the CIT coordinator for their department with full buy in from the Sheriff
  2. Train all GCSO dispatchers in a 2 hour CIT course from NAMI as soon as possible
  3. Discuss training budgets and funding and potential future growth of CIT for the GCSO
  4. Discuss CIT International Core Elements (Read Core Elements Document Here) 

Read the Full Article on Fox Carolina’s Website

“I came out of three years of very severe bipolar episodes and suicidal level depressions,” Paton Blough said.

Blough is a mental health advocate and is open about his past interactions with law enforcement.

“I was hospitalized four times, three of those arrests went violently and I was tased by police,” he said.

Blough, Captain Stacey Owens from Greenville Police Department, and officials with the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) joined forces to see to it that all police officers become CIT trained – Crisis Intervention Training.

Blough said one incident making headlines back in August 2010 changed his world and the city of Greenville. Greenville police officers were called, after family of Andrew Torrez said he needed help. When officers responded, the situation escalated and Torrez was tased and later passed away.

Blough said inside the Greenville County Public Safety meeting Monday, the incident scared him. “I honestly had the thought that that could have been me.”

Captain Stacey Owens, GPD CIT coordinator, contributed to the conversation to explain what has worked and what hasn’t when it comes to CIT training in the police department.

“The Greenville Police Department started this back in 2010, it’s not something you can do overnight,” Owens said.

Now NAMI officials and members of county council suggest a CIT unit for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. The group suggest also having a commanding staff deputy to oversee the unit, similar to Owens in the police department.

“The most successful CIT programs have a sworn officer that is really leading that program,” Blough said.

Officials said the deputy should be someone who is compassionate, can relate to those in a mental health crisis and that shows an outreach in the community.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Rick Roberts said, details revolving around the budget are still in the works and will be discussed at a later day. NAMI South Carolina said because CIT training is in such high demand statewide, funds are currently stretched thin. The organization is hoping for an increase in budget to help fund this county project.

“I think the timing is right, and as counsel we want to move forward,” Rick Roberts said. “There’s nothing more important than public safety and quality of life and having compassion for our citizens.”

 

Read more from the recent timeline of reaction to the Jermaine Massey tragedy through these media articles:

Greenville News

March 19, 2018  SLED investigating deputy-involved shooting of knife-wielding Greenville man

March 24, 2018  Family of Greenville man killed in deputy shooting: ‘We need answers’

April 4, 2018 2 Greenville County Council members question mental health training after deadly shooting

Fox Carolina

April 3rd, 2018  Greenville County Council members call for mandatory deputy training on mental health calls

March 20, 2018  Close friends of man killed during officer-involved shooting say it ‘makes no sense’

March 26, 2018  Greenville NAACP branch releases statement on deadly deputy-involved shooting

WYFF Channel 4 News

April 3rd, 2018  People in mental health crises should be helped, not shot, County Council members say

 

WSPA Channel 7 News

First Responders Receiving Training to Face Growing Mental Health Crisis

March 21st, 2018 Posted by Articles, Media 0 thoughts on “First Responders Receiving Training to Face Growing Mental Health Crisis”

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Interactions between first responders and people with mental health issues are increasing across the country. So much so that first responders are receiving special training to recognize the signs of mental illness.

More than 500 law enforcement and behavioral health professionals from Missouri attended the 4th annual Crisis Intervention Team conference in Columbia. The goal was to train first responders to recognize and de-escalate a situation when a patient or suspect seems to have a mental health issue.

Paton Blough, a mental health advocate, says, “We’re not trying to take away their right to use force. We’re trying to give them another option wherein certain situations they can avoid using force.”

Blough, the keynote speaker, was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder as an adult. He says if it wasn’t for an officer who showed patience with him one night when he didn’t have his medicine he might not be alive.

“Unfortunately, officers get more training on how to use force than how not to use force. I’ve had officers come up to me and say this is amazing stuff.”

Read more>>

 

If you would like to hear Paton in person, he will be speaking at the following upcoming conferences:

Thresholds Gala – Chicago – May 10th
NAMI National Convention – New Orleans – June 27
CIT International –Kansas City– August 15-17

SC Law Requires All Officers to Learn to Spot Mental Illness

July 5th, 2017 Posted by Media, Published Media, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “SC Law Requires All Officers to Learn to Spot Mental Illness”

By SEANNA ADCOX, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Every police officer in South Carolina must undergo training to recognize mental illness and de-escalate confrontations with people who are manic — not malicious — under a new law.

Law enforcement officers increasingly encounter people with mental health issues and they need to be able to “see it for what it is,” State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said.

“Someone may be acting in a strange way, and officers need to understand it’s not just out of meanness but someone has an issue going on and they need help — not necessarily jail, but a hospital,” said Keel, who supported the legislation and recommended that it apply to all types of officers.

The now-mandatory course for all of the state’s roughly 16,000 officers — including corrections officers — will be part of the 40 hours of additional training they need every three years to be recertified for their jobs. The training is already standard for the 59 agencies in South Carolina that are either state or nationally accredited, Keel said. But there are nearly 300 law enforcement agencies statewide.

For the past decade, the National Alliance on Mental Health has received $170,000 annually from the state to provide voluntary training. Some of the larger agencies pay for their officers to undergo the 40-hour course, which includes roll-playing. But small police forces have trouble scheduling even the two- or four-hour courses the alliance offers for free, Director Bill Lindsey said.

In 2010, a 39-year-old Greenville man with schizophrenia died after officers repeatedly shocked him with a Taser. Andrew Torres’ family had called police for help taking him in for treatment, saying his was off his medication and delusional. The city later settled a $500,000 wrongful death lawsuit with the family.

Since then, Greenville has put all of its officers through the alliance’s 40-hour course, Lindsey said.

“If they’re not trained, it escalates to criminality or violence or trouble,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, the bill’s sponsor. “It’s not fair to law enforcement to put them on the street and not equip them.”

Paton Blough, who advocated the law, knows firsthand the difference that training makes. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the Greenville resident was arrested six times between 2005 and 2009 during psychotic episodes in Alabama, Virginia and South Carolina. He now works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to educate officers on his “successful arrests” verses violent ones that left him with scars.

Blough applauds a Greenville officer who “did it right” by allowing his brother to bring his medication and offering him some water. In his delusion, Blough said, he thought the officer drugged his water, so the officer offered to take the first sip.

But in another encounter in Greenville County, he said, he was hit with a baton and pepper spray and, after being put in the squad car in a hospital parking lot, shocked three times in the chest with a Taser.

“I remember thinking they’d stuck bombs in my shoes. I was fighting for my life,” he said. The situation could have gone differently with a “tactical pause” and calm questioning, he said. But he ended up in jail on nine charges, including resisting arrest, and, thankfully, got referred to the county’s then-fledgling mental health court.

“This comes from a deep, deep spot in my heart,” Blough said of his advocacy.

The law, approved unanimously by both chambers and signed in May, doesn’t specify where or how long the training must be, only that it must be approved by the Criminal Justice Academy. The Legislature provided no additional funding for it.

The academy is working with the National Alliance on Mental Health to create the class. It will likely be a four-hour course offered online, which saves money and provides flexibility, academy spokeswoman Florence McCants said.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Crisis intervention training soon to be mandatory for all SC law enforcement

June 16th, 2017 Posted by Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “Crisis intervention training soon to be mandatory for all SC law enforcement”

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 11.49.17 AM

GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA-TV) – It will soon be mandatory for all law enforcement officers in South Carolina to take ongoing crisis intervention and de-escalation training, thanks to a bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate on the last day of the session.

“We view this training as giving the officer another tool,” said Paton Blough, a mental health advocate in Greenville and the bill’s brainchild.

Blough has worked for more than 3 years to make crisis intervention training mandatory in every law enforcement office statewide. The Governor’s signature will soon make it law.

“We think it’s necessary once an officer has field experience to re-look and keep their continued education in this, because once they’ve had a look at field experience, it’s going to mean a lot more for them than it did at the academy,” he said.

Blough says about half the counties in the state do not have any crisis intervention teams. These teams help to deescalate a situation when a mentally ill person is in crisis mode.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness gets about $200,000 from the state to teach these courses every year, but he says they are often poorly attended.

“Taxpayers will get more for their money now, classes will be full, [and] there will be a certain amount of interest.”

He says Greenville Law Enforcement has lead the charge for CIT since the death of Andrew Torres following a police struggle in 2010.

This training became mandatory for all Greenville County Deputies when Sheriff Will Lewis took office this year.

“With multiple municipalities, we all need to be on the same page and practicing the same techniques that we’ve all learned,” said Sgt. Ryan Flood with the GCSO. “As the medical field is evolving, so is law enforcement. We learn new techniques and new tactics that can help us in deescalating the situations.

Blough says this and greater resources for the mentally ill may cost money up front, but it will keep more people out of the criminal justice system.

“We believe every dollar we spend, it saves 5 to 10 dollars,” he said.

Blough says his next project is advocating for more state funded resources to develop greater services for the mentally ill.

‘We are Not Our Illness:’ People with Mental Illnesses Meet with Judges, Psychiatrists to Discuss Courtroom Decision Making

May 19th, 2017 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “‘We are Not Our Illness:’ People with Mental Illnesses Meet with Judges, Psychiatrists to Discuss Courtroom Decision Making”

May 8, 2017

Kicking off #MentalHealthMonth on May 1, judges and psychiatrists from across the country gathered with people with mental illnesses and their family members to discuss the place where their lives often intersect—the criminal justice system.

“I see more people with mental illnesses in my courtroom in a day than a doctor might see in a month,” said Judge Steven Leifman of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. “That’s a sad commentary on the system.”

Click here to read the full article.

South Carolina police officers will learn how to de-escalate mental illness confrontations under Senate bill

May 17th, 2017 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “South Carolina police officers will learn how to de-escalate mental illness confrontations under Senate bill”

March 7, 2017

COLUMBIA — Police officers will receive “de-escalation” training for dealing with someone who has mental illness if a bill heading to the Senate floor becomes law.

The bill, S. 173, differs from a House version debated last month that would create a crisis intervention training council to oversee training in each police jurisdiction across the state. The training would be given every three years.

Click here to read the full article.

A naked man drew police attention, but he didn’t go to jail

May 17th, 2017 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “A naked man drew police attention, but he didn’t go to jail”

March 4, 2017

It was just another Monday when a man walked up to the parking lot of a Rosewood grocery store – naked.

He was not combative or acting erratic, Columbia police officers said. He was just standing there around 7 p.m., in mid-January. Officers would later find his clothes about a mile away, near Devine Street.

“He was looking up at the sky, and saying he was waiting on a sign,” said Capt. Christopher Roberts, the area’s region commander for the Columbia Police Department. “Officers talked to him accordingly, in a calm way.”

Officers determined the man was suffering from an episode related to his mental illness. Instead of being arrested, he was taken to a hospital, Roberts said.

Roberts attributed the response to training Columbia police officers undergo as part of their recertification process. It’s the kind of training mental health advocates are hoping to expand to all of the state’s law enforcement agencies through proposals making their way through the Legislature.

 Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced bills that would require law enforcement officers to complete training in mental health or addictive disorders as part of recertification.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, sponsor of the Senate bill, said it’s unfair to place law enforcement officers in situations they’re not trained to deal with when they’re confronted with a mentally ill person.

“This is to not try to deal with the issue after an arrest, but actually try to help our law enforcement officers and our mentally ill before things escalate,” Sheheen said. “The goal here is to train all law enforcement in de-escalation techniques, and how to cope with people who aren’t necessarily criminals, but suffer from mental illness.”

Read the full article here.

Mental health advocate Paton Blough mounts bid for 4th District

May 17th, 2017 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “Mental health advocate Paton Blough mounts bid for 4th District”

March 20, 2017

Mental health advocate Paton Blough announced Saturday that he’s seeking to collect enough signatures to run as an independent in South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District in 2018.

If successful, Blough would be on the ballot against U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy.

“I know it’s really early to start a run for the 2018 election, but in order to be on the ballot as an independent, you have to have 10,000 signatures,” Blough said. “I’m a passionate independent who has essentially railed against the two-party system most of my adult life. I see major government reform coming from outside the two major parties.”

Click here to read the full article.

Legislature Needs to Pass Crisis Intervention Team Training Bill

January 9th, 2017 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 0 thoughts on “Legislature Needs to Pass Crisis Intervention Team Training Bill”

January 9th, 2017

Paton had an article published in the Greenville News today. You can read the article on the Greenville News website here.

When the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 10 they will have an opportunity to set the tone for the next two years by jumping on a bipartisan police training bill that will solve problems, save lives and hopefully set a tone of co-operation in Columbia to get meaningful legislation accomplished.

S. 173, a Crisis Intervention Team bill which was pre-filed by Democrat Sen. Vince Sheheen and has Republican Rep. Dan Hamilton set to file companion legislation in the S.C. House, will push much-needed de-escalation training for police across the state by mandating all 46 counties to set up a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Currently, about half the counties across the state have some level of CIT training, including about 15 counties with a formal program.

The bill will also create a statewide Technical Assistance Council to help accomplish this goal through governing CIT and helping departments identify and implement available funding and grants.  S. 173 will also help fulfill the mission of the Stepping Up initiative resolution that Greenville County Council recently passed.

CIT and de-escalation training is one of the hottest topics and movements in policing solutions across the country and recently has the support of Congress through the passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Many national advocacy and policy organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Stepping Up initiative to reduce the number of mentally ill behind bars also fully support CIT.  CIT is centered on resolving conflict with the mentally ill and people in substance abuse crisis without use of force unless absolutely necessary and then getting them the best possible help available. According to a USA Today report people with a mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police and according to an NBC report half of the people killed by police have a disability.  These numbers don’t reflect people who are in alcohol or substance abuse crisis that do not have a mental illness or disability.   It is my firm belief that if Officer Michael Slager would have had adequate de-escalation training Walter Scott would be alive today. This bill will solve much of the policing crisis that is so prevalent in the news today.

CIT and de-escalation training teaches officers how to approach people in crisis in a slower fashion and connect with them on a very human level.  The goal is that the police will be slower to threaten force and safely get the person in crisis successfully arrested without force.   We are not advocating the removal of weapons for officers because obviously many times they are needed and very necessary.  What we are trying to do is give the police another tool to protect and serve, and hopefully get the person help where the “T” in CIT comes in.   The “T” stands for “Team” because CIT and this bill do more than just train de-escalation techniques.   Under the “Team” umbrella this bill pushes for community support once the person in crisis is safely brought in.   This bill also supports things like mental health courts, drug courts, addiction recovery services, housing assistance, availability of medications, counseling, etc.

The organization I founded called redhype-test.com/rehinge has worked closely with Sheheen to get this bill introduced and has set up a web page for you to get involved called FightStigma.com where you can sign a pledge to contact elected officials to tell them about the importance of mental health reform and bills like this.  We need you to call members of the General Assembly and ask them to co-sponsor and fully support S. 173 the Crisis Intervention Team and de-escalation training legislation.   This problem has been created over years of political leaders not knowing how to address mental illness and through cuts for services for those in need.  Now the police are forced to pick up the pieces.  This bill is an opportunity to start turning the tide in the proper direction but we need your help.

Kevin Morison, director of programs for the Police Executive Research Forum, a highly respected police policy think tank out of Washington, DC, researched the bill and had this to say: “This proposal is important and innovative – a real model for other states to follow.”  South Carolina has the ability to not only solve much of the policing crisis here in our state but we have the potential to serve as a model for the rest of the country. S. 173 is a bipartisan solution that will protect our officers, the mentally ill and those in substance abuse crisis.  If you agree that saving lives, saving money and making our communities safer is important please get involved and help us pass S. 173 the Crisis Intervention Team and de-escalation training legislation.

Paton Blough is the Founder of redhype-test.com/rehinge and is a NAMI SC state board member. He can be reached at Paton@redhype-test.com/rehinge or 864-444-4409.

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  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
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