HSA credits crisis training with improving law enforcement responses

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Farm Forum

Crisis intervention training has improved law-enforcement response to life-threatening situations on the job, Human Service Agency Chief Operating Officer Kari Johnston told the Codington County Commissioners during the August 5 meeting.

Seventeen local law-enforcement personnel participated in the training, which spanned five Thursdays from January to February.

Local professionals helped with the training, and officers were given tools to help veterans, the disabled, and the abused. Law enforcement also was given training to help individuals with psychological disorders, including people who are hearing voices, who are suicidal, or who are having homicidal rage.

Professional actors from Fargo, N.D., simulated possible real-life situations, and according to Johnston, the need for training was quickly realized when officers responded to the acting scenes in an escalating, aggressive fashion.

“We helped the officers so they know how to act in a life-or-death situation,” Johnston said. “We help officers understand how to talk to the people and get a safe resolution faster.”

“I’ve seen this help the officers and civilians because they have solved an issue in the moment without detainment.”

The HSA plans on expanding the training to surrounding counties in the following years.

“I would highly recommend this to any community,” she said. “Because not only does it help law enforcement but it also helps the community through increased collaboration from law enforcement.”

According to Johnston, the number of people admitted into the safe room declined from 108 from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, to 96 from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014.

The training began in Memphis, Tenn., and has spread into South Dakota via Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

The commission also approved an ordinance to rezone property located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 42nd Street Southwest from agriculture zoning designation to commercial zoning designation. The applicant, Terry Huss, intends to construct a building for storage of personal recreational equipment for himself and possibly other tenants.