Fallen detention deputy's goal will become realityGoodhue County sheriff's officials will honor a fallen detention deputy's wishes by making sure his co-workers receive training to help people with mental health issues.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County sheriff's officials will honor a fallen detention deputy's wishes by making sure his co-workers receive training to help people with mental health issues.
Detention deputy Tom Carroll — who died in March during a CPR training exercise at the jail — stressed the importance of crisis intervention team training, which helps law enforcement officials learn to de-escalate mental health situations and find resources for people they encounter.
"This is kind of a way to honor his memory, carry on his thought," Chief Deputy Scott NcNurlin said. "It is unfortunate he passed away, but it does give us a great incentive to move forward."
The need for crisis intervention training has become more apparent over the past few years as dispatchers, patrol officers and detention deputies encounter more people with mental health problems, sheriff's officials said.
McNurlin said an average of 10 to 20 percent of Goodhue County jail inmates are on psychotropic medication at any given time, and one in 10 emergency calls nationally is from someone having a mental health crisis.
"In the jail, it's a very sad state of affairs," Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers said. "They're not psychiatrists or psychologists, they're detention deputies."
Dealing with mental health situations is time-consuming and complicated, McNurlin said. He noted that the right training can often mean the difference between a disaster and a peaceful ending.
"The training is meant as a preventative measure to save everybody a lot of heartache," McNurlin said. "When someone is experiencing really bizarre behavior and you have no training or understanding it makes it that much more difficult as a cop to deal with it. This training gives you kind of an advantage and understanding you can use in the field to help solve a problem."
Goodhue County does not have enough staff or money — the training is expensive — to enlist a full-time crisis intervention team. McNurlin said the ultimate goal is to train enough officers so that at least one is on duty at all times.
"He'd be so pleased you're doing this," Tom's widow, Diane Carroll, told sheriff's officials gathered in December for the department's annual awards ceremony.
McNurlin said other states have taken mental health training to the next level by partnering with institutions where officers can bring mentally unstable people instead of taking them to jail.
"There is a real concern about criminalizing mentally ill people," McNurlin said. "They commit crimes but they're not a typical criminal."
Though Minnesota has not reached that point, McNurlin said the training is a step in the right direction.
"We want people to be able to intervene properly," he said. "This will give them the tools they need."