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Mental health officer online training in Tuscaloosa

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Lt. Craig Parker with the Tuscaloosa Police Department believes officers need as much training as possible to prepare them for what they may encounter on an emergency call.

He feels that’s especially needed when an officer could be responding to someone in mental distress.

“We’re considered first responders and first responders respond to everything including mental health crises. So to be put in these situations we need to be more properly trained how to handle them,” said Parker, who is also commander of the behavioral health unit inside TPD.

That’s why Parker supports an ongoing partnership with the University of Alabama.

For the past six months, UA’s school of Social Work and Center For the Advanced Public Safety have developed an online training program for law enforcement.

They can take it online at their leisure and complete it on their own time when they get breaks and help them understand mental illness, substance abuse and de-escalation strategies,” Parker added.

The training is free for law enforcement.

It’s eight hours long and can be done all at once and broken down into several parts.

“We’re hoping for once to destigmatize mental illness. It’s an illness like any other illness and we hope to get it along the same lines and to make officers more comfortable when it comes to having to respond to these situations.”

Law Enforcement officers can register online for the course.

So far, more than 135 officers have participated in the training.

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