School's out for summer, but class is in session for several local police officers.
For the first time, we're able to show you a behind the scenes look at how the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) teaches officers to handle people with mental health problems.
Over 20 officers are taking part in the week long crisis intervention training at Coastal Care in Wilmington.
Melanie Bunn, a registered nurse and a member of the NC Alliance for Alzheimer's Care, says when you're dealing people with mental disabilities, it all starts with the basics like a simple handshake. Bunn said that establishing contact is half the battle.
"Walking up slowly gives you time and also will give you a chance to monitor their behavior," Bunn said.
This week's training is focused on dealing with children and teens – an important piece for School Resource officers like Deputy Chad Kitless from the Pender County Sheriff's Office.
"It prepares us to understand what these kids go through and help them to feel less alone," Kitless said. "A big part is being able to relate to the people we serve and this gives us a broader spectrum."
Organizers say that by the end of this week, every SRO in New Hanover County will have completed the crisis intervention training. They hope to have more officers trained in the near future.
To learn more about NAMI or to read information on CIT training, visit http://www.nami.org/
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