FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – Following a year of calls for greater police training and accountability, and the controversial arrest of Karen Garner by Loveland Police, many agencies across the State of Colorado are working to better prepare their officers on how to interact with those experiencing mental crisis.
Following the forceful arrest of Garner, who lives with dementia, Loveland Police required their entire force to go through training on how to interact with people living with dementia.
Around the same time other unrelated agencies chose to do the same, including Firestone Police. Commander Brian Scott told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas his team of 28 officers went through training to identify Alzheimer’s and dementia when interacting with the public.
“We watch the news too. We asked ourselves, ‘Is this something we can do? Is this something we are trained in?’ And, the answer was ‘yes, we can do it. And no, we weren’t trained,'” Scott said.
Scott and his fellow patrol officers went through a two-hour training process through two platforms in order to better understand what people living with dementia are experiencing and how they can better assist them during times of crisis.
“It helps us work with citizens a little safer,” Scott said.
The simple training gave officers a better understanding on how they can identify the characteristics of someone with dementia before taking action.
“(Signs include) blank stares, maybe an orientation issue where they are lost. They may do things they normally would not do if they weren’t suffering from Alzheimer’s,” Scott said.
Scott said he was happy his agency went through the training, and encouraged others to do the same.
“Not everybody is the same, and there is not just one approach for everybody that is out there,” Scott said. “Since we’ve done the training I do know of one instance that it has actually come to fruition. We had an officer in contact with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, and we had a different end result than we probably would have otherwise. There is no reason why other departments shouldn’t do it.”