In Antelope Valley, community organizations are working collaboratively with law enforcement to train and support officers to effectively and compassionately respond to calls for mental health situations.
In 2013, an Antelope Valley Law Enforcement Mental Health Task Force was created to equip law enforcement personnel and first responders in managing mental health situations in the field. With Home For Good partner, Mental Health America, coordinating this diverse group of public agencies, law enforcement, first responders, and local service providers, they have made impressive headway in promoting peaceful interactions on the streets. Over its first year, the Task Force organized and executed trainings on a variety of issues including: recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness, effective communication skills with the mentally ill, self-care and stigma. Additionally, they were able to create a useful “Pocket Resource Guide for First Responders in the Antelope Valley” as a reference and referral guide for anyone in the area to utilize.
As a result of these efforts, the group reported that 306 sheriff’s deputies were trained on more empathetically responding to mental health-related calls. This new approach has already led to several deputies receiving positive accommodation for their effective management of mental health-related situations. In a recent week where three separate officer-involved incidents that could have easily ended “lethally” the situations were deescalated by first responders, saving the lives of several individuals, including a 17-year-old teenager in Palmdale. The Task Force will continue to work collaboratively across public and non-profit sectors to increase the number of successful interactions between first responders and those with mental illness for the betterment of all living in the Greater Antelope Valley Community.
Congratulations to the Antelope Valley Law Enforcement Mental Health Task Force!
Law Enforcement Mental Health Task Force Members: Mental Health America – Antelope Valley Enrichment Services, Lancaster and Palmdale Sheriff Stations, California Highway Patrol, cities of Lancaster and Palmdale Public Safety Offices, Edwards Air Force Base Security Forces, LA County Department of Mental Health, LA County Mental Health Commission, Penny Lane, Child and Family Guidance Center, Optimist Mental Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness
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