Rowan County sheriff’s deputies will be required to take crisis intervention training

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 10, 2023

SALISBURY — All incoming Rowan County sheriff’s deputies must take a Crisis Intervention Team Training class before putting on the badge, a new requirement that was announced by Rowan County Sheriff Travis Allen. Deputies who are already serving with the sheriff’s office but have not taken the training will be required to as well.

The training is a one-week class and teaches officers skills on how to respond to people in a behavioral health crisis or to individuals with a mental disability. Those taking the training tour and talk with people from Rowan Vocational Opportunities, a local nonprofit rehabilitation facility for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Another part of the course, has deputies put on headphones that simulate people hearing voices in their head.

The training is provided by Vaya Health, an organization that manages Medicaid, federal, state and local funding for services related to mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disabilities.

“It’s a very in-depth one week course that really shows them how people in a mental health crisis feel, think and act,” Allen said. “A lot of the officers that go say it’s some of the best training they ever had and I agree.”

How officers can better respond to situations where individuals are dealing with a mental health crises is a large topic in law enforcement, Allen said, which is one of the reasons he thought it was a good idea to make the training a requirement. He said he has personally used a lot of the education he has learned from the training in his career.

“I don’t think you can be a modern, up-to-date law enforcement agency if you’re not offering that type of training to your employees,” Allen said.

He explained that it’s another tool for officers to use that will make them better at their job. It shows an officer how to identify a mental health crisis a person may be going through, how to respond and what resources are available to better help, such as telling families about places to go to seek treatment.

“It makes you a better officer if you can understand who you’re are dealing with. Am I dealing with someone who is just violent because they’re mean and aggressive and a criminal? Or am I dealing with somebody who is having a manic episode who is mentally ill? It’s a big difference in how you deal with those two people.”

Allen said within a year and half, all Rowan sheriff’s deputies are to have completed the training.