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Davis Journal

Training helps officers deal with individuals in crisis

Mar 01, 2021 10:37AM ● By Becky Ginos

WOODS CROSS—When police officers are faced with a volatile situation, knowing how to deal with individuals in crisis can make all the difference in the outcome. That is why Woods Cross Police Chief Chad Soffe is having his officers go through a special program called Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).

“We’ve had 10 officers complete the training,” he said. “It’s eight hours a day for five days. You’re required to take a refresher course every two years.”

The training starts off with instructors talking about the problems people have with police, Soffe said. “They teach us about those with special needs, autism, etc. and how we should deal with them. Sometimes officers show up and don’t understand they might struggle with cognitive thinking. They might look like an adult but have the mentality of a 4-year-old.”

It helps officers to recognize when a child or adult is on the spectrum, he said. “They may not understand what you tell them to do. So an officer without the training might just tell them to turn around and then handcuffs them. The training helps with that.”

Soffe said the most memorable thing for him when he went through the training was wearing headphones that simulated what it’s like to hear voices. “For one to two hours voices talk in your head. You see what it feels like to constantly have voices in your head that never leave. Some people hear voices that tell them to do violent things. It makes it hard for them to listen and concentrate on what an officer wants them to do.”

Officers need to be aware this might be going on and find a way to communicate with the individual, he said. “Maybe they can write it down or get someone who knows the person to help.”

The training runs the whole gamut, Soffe said. “It’s a week of instruction on those various topics. It causes officers to think about all the aspects of what individuals might be going through.”

Students at Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake are bused to the FrontRunner station in Woods Cross to go north or south, Soffe said. “Sometimes we have to deal with them there if they get in a fight or we get a call. The training helps officers know how to handle the situation properly.”

It’s up to each city whether they have their officers go through CIT, he said. “When it comes up again I want my other six officers to go so that every officer has been through that training.”