Nebraska law enforcement agencies receive mental health crisis training

BEATRICE, Neb. (KLKN) – The Beatrice Police Department and multiple sheriff’s offices gathered on Thursday for Behavioral Threat Assessment Training.

One of the creators of the training, Joseph Wright, said the goal is to teach officers what it may look like when someone is having a mental health crisis.

“We try and teach … what it may look like and feel like for the officer and for the officer to understand that they’re not dangerous,” he said.

Coincidentally, this training comes on the heels of a deadly officer-involved shooting by a Beatrice Police officer last weekend.

The suspect who died allegedly yelled that he had a gun and reached into his waistband, prompting the officer to fire several times.

When asked about if a person’s mental well-being is taken into account in use of force decisions, a Beatrice Police captain said no.

“When it comes to use of force, it’s really just a behavior response, honestly,” he said. “And it depends on how the person is acting, the things that they’re saying, what kind of ability we think they have to carry out whatever they’re threatening to do.”

Wright said the class should help officers better understand people going through a mental health crisis.

“Sometimes mental illness seems abhorrent or hard to understand, so we might go to dangerousness when we don’t need to,” he said.  “So we’re very clear, very objective about what suicidality or homicidality may look like for someone planning an act of violence or lethality whether to themselves or someone else.”

While at the training session, officers were given numerous tools to use when they encounter someone with a mental health problem.  One of those tools is to call crisis management professionals.

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