CPD: Mental health training critical for diffusing tense situations


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston police say they put their mental health training to the test trying to calm a situation that led to King Street being closed down twice.

“You’re not dealing with a criminal, you’re dealing with a person that is having a mental health issue,” says Captain Jason Bruder with Charleston Police Department.

For 18 hours Charleston Police worked to convince a “distraught man” to leave a convenience store. Officers say this was a chance to use mental health training.

“We hear from mental health professionals and we hear from people who have been diagnosed with mental illness and who have been incriminated with some crimes and they talk about their perspective of it,” says Captain Bruder.

Taking time to listen to the person needing help is the number one tactic officers use in tense situations.

“We really try to listen to them and sometimes when you are dealing with people they are in a very agitated state and we just try to give them space to kind of calm down and to maybe come down and seek help,” he says.

Local doctors agree with police they say their goal is to normalize wellness visits and accessibility to help.

“The more that we make it normative for people to seek help that the numbers will go down and people will go get help more quickly,” says Dr. Ashley Bullock, Chief Psychology Officer at Modern Minds.

Getting officers to learn how to respond and act accordingly is what they plan to maintain for the future of the program.

“Officers learning how to recognize different types of mental illness and how to talk to people in a calm manner and hopefully move it towards a peaceful solution,” says Captain Bruder.

Charleston Police Department tell me they plan on putting more officers through this training to help with future calls.

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