Crisis Intervention: All in the approach

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Rapid City Police, in conjunction with agencies across the area, are taking part in crisis intervention training this week.

The 40-hour program teaches officers how to approach the mentally ill and victims of trauma. As part of the training, officers must take part in hands-on crisis situations with the help of actors. The situations help in dealing with a victim by showing that building a rapport will help officers in response to the situation.

“We come in there in every situation with a badge and gun from the police and the sheriff’s office side, so we have to try and really use our communication skills to be able to calm them down to a point that we can help them get services,"said Lt. John Olson, RCPD Patrol.

Olson says officers must diagnose each situation for the best approach, as most cases with victims in Rapid City are related to mental illness, drugs, or alcohol.

Paying a victim during officer training was Vicki Urban. As an actress, she throws curve balls to the officers to make them ask questions in the right manner.

"It’s always on their demeanor, their questions, their posture. How they treat me is a lot of it. So if they don't treat me nice, I'm not going to be nice. And not only that - sometimes I'm not nice to them to start off with. So they have to figure that out."

The training will continue over the next several days with officers being throw into different scenarios. Officers will be given refresher courses every few years.

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