Helping veterans in crisis situations

News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- The El Paso Police Department Crisis Intervention Team is made up of 14 officers who are teamed up with a specialists from the Emergence Health Network.

This week members of the teams are taking training courses on how to best respond to calls involving a veterans dealing with trauma.

“We get called out to suicide calls, people in crises, people with mental illnesses. Just about anything to do with mental health. We’ll get called out and we’ll assess the situation. If it’s not a crime we can go ahead and determine what the next process would be,” said Humberto Perez an El Paso Police Officer.

Finding out what that process will be has gotten easier now that officers are teamed up with specialists.

Prior to the Crises Intervention team, officers would go out to a call and if the subject was suicidal they would take them straight to the hospital. Now, the specialist can refer the person to a place to get help rather than just taking them to the hospital.

However, when it comes to crisis calls involving veterans the teams are currently taking courses put on by Endeavors in partnership with other organizations to learn de-escalation techniques.

“Knowing about boot camp, their active duty status what places they’ve been sent to and what state of mind they come back. It gives you a good reading of how to approach them,” said Perez.

Techniques include:

  • Encouraging the veteran to share their feelings.
  • Know rage could be caused by ongoing trauma.
  • Call the individual a few days after the initial call.

Some of the officers who are apart of the crisis intervention team are veterans themselves. Which they say helps them to connect and interact with veterans.

“Picking up on specific details let us know if they have PTSD or depression, anxiety. If they have anxiety and you show up with 20 cop cars it’s probably going to turn out wrong. So it’s just knowing where they came from,” said Perez.

Officers from the crisis intervention team say if you know a veteran who may be struggling, sometimes just engaging in a conversation with them can help. If it does get worse that’s what the crisis intervention team is there for.

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