Law enforcement officers handling increase in mental health crises

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — Greenville County Sheriff’s Office deputies say their mental health training is coming in handy.

According to GCSO’s Lieutenant Ryan Flood, local law enforcement officers in recent months have dealt with an increased number of cases involving mentally unwell people.

“The amount of times we’re dealing with someone who’s having a mental episode is much higher now,” Flood said.

“Speaking with the deputies and officers out there, they are dealing with more people who are suffering some sort of mental illness.”

According to South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Director Jackie Swindler, all law enforcement candidates take a specific four-hour class on mental illness.

“What we teach during that is how to recognize different types of mental illness and then how to deal with those different individuals, whether it’s someone who is schizophrenic or someone who is bipolar,” Swindler said.

Instructors will guide candidates through best practices and approaches to finding peaceful resolutions to mental health calls, according to Swindler.

In addition to the four hours devoted to teaching mental health crisis response, Swindler says officers are required to complete additional mental-health training at least once every three years.

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