LUBBOCK, Texas — The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department is embarking on Crisis Intervention Training that will teach correctional officers how to deescalate high-stress situations with inmates.
The 40-hour training program incorporates role play and acting as part of learning how to empathize with people who have mental disorders, are overwhelmed or are contemplating suicide.
Captain Ryan Braus said that part of the program’s goal is for officers to effectively communicate with inmates instead of resorting to use of force.
“History has been that we come in with an authoritative approach. And now we are trying to transition and evolve our culture to give us a more empathetic approach and look at individuals and understand their circumstances and see why they’re experiencing what they are experiencing,” he said.
Sergeant Rebecca Thompson with the Midland County jail said the education learned in this program is something she hopes departments nationwide will incorporate as part of their training.
“I want our officers to be able to treat individuals that come in the jail the way I would want my family members treated,” she said.
Although this program is not a substitute for a mental health degree, Christopher Swann, a teacher and actor in the program, says learning how to actively listen can make a world of difference.
“We’re not doctors, we’re not nurses. We don’t have that training we are going to do what we can for these people that really need that help… Bottom line is, I’m hoping it will save lives,” he said.