Crisis intervention training helps police better deal with the mentally ill

MEDFORD, Ore — On Tuesday the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office announced the officer who fired the fatal shots in a shooting last month was cleared of any wrong-doing and acted within the scope of his duties.

Ten people testified in front of a grand jury before determining that Eagle Point Police Officer, Officer Cardenas, acted lawfully in his use of deadly force in the death of Matthew Thayer Graves on September 19, 2018.

One of those who testified was Graves’ father. He said his son was diagnosed with schizophrenia by a doctor in jail back in 2012, but had not been taking his medication.

All Eagle Point Police Officers receive special crisis intervention training to better deal with the mentally ill, and require officers to receive the training annually. Both of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Matthew Thayer Graves had received that training prior.

In fact, most agencies provide crisis intervention training to their officers, specifically for situations dealing with the mentally ill.

According to Lieutenant Mike Budreau of the Medford Police Department, officers go through a 40-hour, in-depth training to learn about the different types of mental illness.

Budreau said while the officers can’t make a diagnosis when they come in contact with someone, the training is beneficial when those stressful situations do come around.

“Just being able to identify that the person is in crisis, and then some general responses that could help the situation and not escalate the situation is very valuable,” Budreau said.

He said his officers go through this training once a year, but can have more with other agencies as needed.

More than 300 people have been placed into custody this year due to mental health issues, according to statistics from Medford Police.

Budeau said that’s why they take training for this so seriously.

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