County Jail Staff Receives Training to Increase Mental Health Awareness

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County Jail Staff Receives Training to Increase Mental Health Awareness
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Custody Operations Chief Vincent Wasilewski welcomes class participants.

Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Custody Deputies and professional staff at the County Jail are receiving training this week in recognizing and responding to persons experiencing mental health emergencies while in custody. 

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, in its commitment to addressing the county’s growing mental health concerns, developed the Behavioral Sciences Unit (BSU) to oversee cases involving mental illness, develop a Crisis Intervention Team and to build community partnerships to help adopt restorative justice principles to divert individuals from the criminal justice system and into treatment.  The unit, under the management of Dr. Cherylynn Lee, has developed a Crisis Intervention Team training curriculum certified by the State of California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and the states Standards and Training for Corrections (STC). 

This training helps deputies in the field and within the county jail recognize persons in mental health crisis, or experiencing a mental health emergency.  Over a thousand law enforcement professionals throughout Santa Barbara County have attended this training which focuses on recognition, de-escalation and resources available to properly and effectively manage these often-difficult situations.

The training being conducted this week focuses exclusively on the custody environment, and the types of situations and incidents those working in the county jail may experience.  Twenty-five Custody Deputies and professional staff are in attendance, while fifty have already completed the training.  Course presenters include mental health professionals, subject matter experts, advocates and others to share information from a variety of perspectives.  Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness, Santa Barbara County Probation, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Band of Brothers and WellPath have all contributed to the success of this training.

 

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biguglystick Jan 18, 2020 12:17 PM
County Jail Staff Receives Training to Increase Mental Health Awareness

We need more mental health facilities and LESS jails! The prison system in the U.S. is a joke! Privatized slavery and abuse. It's insane. The family members of the incarcerated are punished also, with inflated enormous phone charges from private phone companies. This is so wrong. We have GOT to make some sweeping prison reforms, like yesterday. DO BETTER.

buckwheat Jan 18, 2020 09:08 AM
County Jail Staff Receives Training to Increase Mental Health Awareness

Hopefully, this training was implemented as a result of the scathing grand jury investigation of jail staff and mental health staff for their negligence in preventing suicides of inmates while in custody! The problem with grand juries investigating departments where the department head is elected is that only the voters can make changes happen if the department chooses to not abide by the recommendations of the grand jury or the board of supervisors.

RHS Jan 18, 2020 09:04 AM
County Jail Staff Receives Training to Increase Mental Health Awareness

What 10:14 notes is correct but there should be more outrage that we have allowed political empire building to create "mental health" units with the jail instead of outside the walls of that place. No one should be sentenced to a jail for "their own good" and people who need housing, voluntary or not, should not be put in a jail. The cost of the jail mental health nonsense and travesty is suffering people and overburdened taxpayers. Take back the mental health burden from the Sheriff and take back the money given him to expand the jails and use it properly for good results. If this means annexing part of the absurd new North County Jail, do it.

a-1582100710 Jan 17, 2020 10:14 PM
County Jail Staff Receives Training to Increase Mental Health Awareness

Thank you to Dr. Lee and all the others who contributed to this training. It's a travesty that we depend on law enforcement, instead of medical professionals, to "treat" those who suffer mental illnesses. But this training is certain to be a win-win by helping custody officers do their job better and more safely resulting in better care for the mentally ill inmates. Maybe someday the Release of Information procedures can be expanded so that families can exchange information with WellPath, the hard-working and understaffed Medical Unit, since the families often know the inmate's medical history when the inmate doesn't. And, given that mentally ill inmates are frequently kept in isolation cells by necessity, the visitation procedures for supportive family members could be less onerous. Again, trainers, thank you for presenting this comprehensive program and, trainees, I hope you find it to be the most interesting, enlightening, and useful training you get all year.

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