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Jailers learn to de-escalate mental health crises

Moultrie Observer - 10/11/2017

Oct. 11--MOULTRIE, Ga. -- It's an open secret that America's jails are among the most likely places to serve as housing for those with mental health issues -- whether those issues involve alcohol and drugs or untreated conditions.

With that in mind, Colquitt County Jail employees received training last week in crisis intervention to recognize and help those who are locked up and have a mental illness.

All 42 jail staff members took the mandatory Correctional Officers De-escalation Education (CODE) training.

About 2 million people with mental illness are arrested and jailed each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI for short. And almost 15 percent of all men and 30 percent of women locked up each year "have a serious mental health condition."

Several years ago the Moultrie Police Department initiated a training program for emergency service providers after a mentally ill Moultrie man was shot and killed when a SWAT team entered his residence. The man had been identified as the person who threw a brick at the window of a convenience store.

Local agencies, including the police department, Colquitt County Sheriff's Office and Moultrie Fire Department, as well as outside agencies have received training for law enforcement officers.

NAMI Tennessee developed the course used for correctional and jail officers, sheriff's Sgt. Michael Cox said.

"The training class also included representatives from NAMI and Turning Point to educate the jail staff on different ways to handle inmates with mental illness going through a crisis," Cox said.

Turning Point is a private behavioral health and substance abuse treatment center located in Moultrie.


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