Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $185,000)
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Behavioral Response Unit (BRU) proposes implementing Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) in response to an increasing number of calls for service involving citizens who have a mental illness. The purpose is to train all agency first responders whose primary responsibilities include interacting with the general public. This group comprises approximately 1,633 sworn deputy sheriffs, 145 non-sworn personnel working the communications center, and others, of whom only 538 have attended the training.
The proposed training will include recognition of mental illness, advanced de-escalation techniques, and improved communication skills with people with substance abuse disorders and mental illness. The provided activities will teach attendees to identify stress, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the types of trauma prevalent in law enforcement officers. Those activities will include scenarios with trained role-players focused on improving the quality of life of individuals in crisis, reducing their exposure to the criminal justice system, lessening the frequency of negative contact with law enforcement, referring them to appropriate community services, and increasing officer safety.
The training curriculum will also address suicide prevention, mental health issues, working with military veterans experiencing PTSD, substance abuse disorder, and mental illness, and mental health wellness among law enforcement officers. Training will also offer two options for law enforcement officers on how to obtain services and where to find resources to assist themselves, their co-workers, and their families.
Citizens and visitors to Orange County are the intended beneficiaries of the project. Expected outcomes will include reductions in arrests, use of force, the number of involuntary commitments to mental health facilities (Baker Act), negative contact with law enforcement, and providing resources to appropriate community services.
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