Utica, NY (April 26, 2010) – This month, Upstate Cerebral Palsy staff members are training Utica police officers on ways to properly handle individuals with developmental disabilities when confronted on the job.
The entire police force, made up of nearly 150 officers, will rotate through and complete the course where they will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss real-life scenarios. The 75 minute training sessions take place at the Utica Police Academy at Mohawk Valley Community College.
“Upstate Cerebral Palsy is committed to partnering with law enforcement officials and first responders in our local community,” explained Jim Weaver, vice president of school age services at Upstate Cerebral Palsy, who was instrumental in coordinating these trainings. “Unfortunately, there are cases in the field when police officers will encounter individuals with behavioral or mental disabilities. As a provider of services in the area, we feel responsible to help teach the community, and specifically the Utica police officers, better ways to approach and handle these complex individuals.”
Jennifer Bartlett, director of quality development and support, Patti Carey, residential director of Utica Tradewinds Education Center, and Scott Tanner, clinical director, all of Upstate Cerebral Palsy, are leading the sessions. The training came after Lieutenant Sherman Jones of the Utica Police Department approached the agency about providing information on dealing with those who have behavioral or mental health issues. Upstate Cerebral Palsy readily accepted the opportunity to educate the force.
“We approached Upstate Cerebral Palsy to provide training to members of the Utica Police Department so that our officers would gain a better understanding of dealing with persons with disabilities,” Jones said. “Police officers are usually the first one to respond to incidents in which a person with a disability is either a victim of a crime, or requires assistance of some type. As a result, we wanted our officers to be aware of not only how to interact with these individuals, but also where to seek assistance to help in any given situation.”
Six officers who are attending the session previously were employed by Upstate Cerebral Palsy and are pleased that the police department is taking a pro-active role in police interactions with individuals with disabilities. Remaining sessions take place on Tuesday, April 27 and Thursday, April 29.
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