BEN HILL CO., GA (WALB) - It's a controversial topic that's made headlines nationwide, law enforcement officers and how they respond to people with mental health issues.
For the first time, one south Georgia sheriff's office is learning how to handle those cases.
"Providing this training, what we're doing is helping them understand what they're seeing
Fitzgerald Police, Georgia State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources partnered with the GBI for training on how to handle cases with people affected by mental health.
"What we're teaching them to do is recognize those so they then can understand what is going on with those individuals when they are in crisis," said Special Agent Debbie Shaw of the GBI.
The week long class has hands on activities, role playing and partner work for officers to learn all the different types of scenarios they may face in the field.
The illnesses may include ADHD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
"We show them these scenarios so they then can put the information that they've been taught into play," said Shaw.
Training included how to recognize situations, how to best communicate and techniques to calm a situation.
"It will give them a better understanding of mental illness," said Shaw.
Shaw says this additional training can end up helping those with mental or behavioral health problems receive the treatment they need, instead of just sticking them behind bars.
"They can then say, Oh okay, I know what they're doing, I know why they're doing it then they can also de-escalate the situation so that will allow the individual to calm down and ease out," said Shaw.