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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

‘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.

A Very Positive Hearing for H.5025 in the SC House Subcommittee

March 11th, 2016 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media, Video 0 thoughts on “A Very Positive Hearing for H.5025 in the SC House Subcommittee”

March 11, 2016

Yesterday was an excellent day for SC House Bill H.5025 as it received a very positive hearing in front of the House committee. Paton Blough was a part of the hearing, and was also featured in a couple of local news outlets as they covered the bill. While H.5025 hasn’t passed in the House Committee yet, we are expecting that it will next week.

Paton and Rehinge would also like to give a huge thank you to Mike Woody, the president of CIT International, and NAMI Indiana for their hard work on creating the Indiana bill, SB380, that laid out the blue print for Bill H.5025, the Crisis Intervention Team Training Act.

From WSPA News Channel 7

A South Carolina House subcommittee passed a bill Thursday morning that would change the way police handle people with mental illness. Officers would be required to go through much more training on crisis intervention, and they would no longer transport to mental hospitals people who are not a danger to themselves or others. Instead, ambulances could transport those patients.

Bill sponsor Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, says, “I think mental illness is a health care issue, and in those cases where the mentally ill person is not an actual danger to himself or to other people, that that person should be transported in an ambulance and not in the back of a patrol car handcuffed.”

From The State Online News

Health care and police advocates appearing before a S.C. House subcommittee on Thursday pushed for new state laws they said would help de-escalate potentially explosive confrontations between police and mentally ill people.

Requiring police officers to have special training for dealing with the mentally ill would benefit both police and the mentally ill, said Paton Blough, 39, a Greenville resident who told subcommittee members of his six encounters with police while mentally troubled.

“Three of those arrests went well; three of those arrests turned violent. I believe the times I was calmly arrested had to do with the way officers dealt with me and not a difference in my mental state,” Blough said.

“All six times, I was under the delusion I was a god and police were trying to murder me,” he said. “… The officers’ ability to slow down and control the situation through verbal techniques was the main factor in calming my fears of death.”

In recent years, Blough’s personal experiences with mental illness have turned him into a state and national spokesman on ways to defuse confrontations between mentally ill people and police, who are often the first responders to calls concerning mentally ill people who might pose a danger to themselves or others. A board member of National Alliance on Mental Illness South Carolina, Blough now controls his illness through medication and various cognitive techniques.

The bill that Blough supports would set up “crisis intervention teams” operated through the sheriff’s department in each county, with specially trained officers who know how to deal with the mentally ill. It would also require more training by law enforcement officers in how to deal with mentally ill people.

“Law enforcement, health care, the (S.C.) Department of Mental Health — everyone who deals with or touches a mentally ill issue — would be part of a team to create a statewide crisis intervention program,” said Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, chairman of the Constitutional Laws subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, in an interview after the hearing.

Greenville Mental Health Advocate Pushes for Federal Funding

December 4th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 1 thought on “Greenville Mental Health Advocate Pushes for Federal Funding”

December 4th, 2015

The Greenville Journal wrote an article yesterday on Paton’s meeting with Trey Gowdy where he announced his support and cosponsorship for HR731, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2015. We are still trying to get the rest of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation to support HR731 as well. Click here to learn more about how you can reach out to SC’s delegates to get them to support HR731.

Read the Full Article on the Greenville Journal’s Website

Greenville mental health advocate Paton Blough last week met with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy and convinced him to support federal legislation that would help fund mental health treatment courts.

Blough, who benefitted from a mental health court program and is a state board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), started a petition campaign this fall to run against Gowdy. In a letter to the congressman, he said Gowdy lacked “leadership in the area of mental health reform.”

“The reason I got into this race… was to make the point of the needed mental health reform,” Blough said.

However, the evening after the meeting between Gowdy and Blough, which County Councilman Bob Taylor also attended, one of Gowdy’s staffers emailed Blough to let him know that Gowdy would sign on as a cosponsor of the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2015.

The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee’s Crime Subcommittee, which Gowdy sits on, and Blough said he was excited and hoped Gowdy’s leadership would aid the passage of the bill.

The bill Gowdy agreed to support would expand veterans’ treatment programs, peer support programs for people going through long-term recovery and programs for adults and juveniles who have a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder, in addition to funding training programs to help police recognize mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Mental Illness is No Crime

June 2nd, 2015 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Mental Illness is No Crime”

June 2nd, 2015

Newt Gingrich and Van Jones wrote an excellent article for CNN about how mental ill people need to be treated by appropriate mental health providers, and not be locked up in prisons for their actions. Paton and his person story of dealing with bipolar are highlighted in the article. Please take the time to read this piece.

Read the full article on CNN

Before Paton Blough got his bipolar disorder under control, it nearly cost him everything.
The Greenville, South Carolina, resident was arrested six times in three years, each for an episode related to his illness. Instead of receiving treatment, he was thrown in jail. In the rough prison environment and without proper treatment, he ended up with two felony convictions for crimes committed while incarcerated.

Blough managed to find a path to treatment. That makes him one of the lucky ones. Today, mentally ill Americans are disproportionately more likely to be arrested, incarcerated, suffer solitary confinement or rape in prison and commit another crime once released.

Quick: Name the largest provider of mental health care in America. If you guessed “our prisons and jails,” you would be right.

A 2006 U.S. Department of Justice study found that three out of four female inmates in state prisons, 64% of all people in jail, 56% of all state prison inmates and 45% of people in federal prison have symptoms or a history of mental disorder.

America’s approach when the mentally ill commit nonviolent crimes — locking them up without addressing the problem — is a solution straight out of the 1800s.

Read the full article on CNN

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About Rehinge

Rehinge exists to provide hope, education, and spiritual inspiration for all people affected with mental health issues and to fight stigma while pushing for global mental health reform.

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What People Are Saying

  • “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!”

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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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