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Police officers train to respond to individuals with mental illness

By Randall Jeppesen | Posted - May 10th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

OREM — Orem police officers received training on recognizing individuals with mental health issues when they responded to a house full of screaming people in Provo Canyon on Friday.

The week-long training has been of an initiative to help officers respond more calmly and safely to situations where mental illnesses play a role. Orem Police Lt. Guy Gustman said that recognizing a mental illness right away can make a big difference in being able to handle a stressful situation.

"Instead of having to go to a taser or a baton, we have other tools that we can rely on," Gustman said.

Therapist Bryant Jenks with Wasatch Mental Health also emphasized the importance of learning techniques to recognize mental illness to prevent an officer from using deadly force or deploying a taser.

"I can use my questions," Jenks said. "I can keep my distance and talk people down.

Gustman said that officers have benefited from taking the training, and it will be taught statewide.

Randall Jeppesen

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