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Entrant police officers receive mental health training at KC Regional Police Academy

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 19:36:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some of the most common 911 calls for police officers involve mental health.

It's this week's topic of training for the 174th entrant officer class at the KC Regional Police Academy.

KSHB 41 News reporter Emma James has been following along throughout the training to become a police officer since February.

During Monday's training, entrant officers heard from members of the crisis intervention team.

KCPD Sgt. Sean Hess spoke about the importance of using de-escalation tactics and empathy during a 911 call involving someone who may be having a mental health crisis.

Hess said it's important for the class to understand mental health can affect anyone and everyone.

"You're really lucky if it hasn't touched you or your family and friends, and it's important to have that understanding and awareness and develop that empathy and special touch to really relate to somebody in these situations," Hess said.

The training teaches the class about de-escalating a situation rather than focusing too much on control.

Hess said mental health training has evolved a lot since he became an officer more than 30 years ago.

"It used to be go to one or two calls maybe in a month involving somebody in a mental health crisis situation, officers are doing two to three times that in a shift now," Hess said.

Entrant officers watch video examples of do's and don'ts about calls involving mental health.

They also learn about resources they can share with someone in a crisis.

"They see the uniform and they might not want to talk to us, but giving them those other resources, they'll be able to talk to them or want to reach out to them to get help," said entrant officer Jacob Hedrick.

Experts also speak to entrant officers about taking care of themselves and their own mental well being.

Austin Ferrebee said he's already started having conversations with loved ones to help him on days where work may be a bit dark.

"It can be very mentally taxing, so having that good foundation to go home to is nice," Ferrebee said.

KSHB 41 News will continue following the class through graduation Aug. 18.