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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU trains law enforcement officers to calm crisis situations

Forty law enforcement officers will spend spring break at New Mexico State University learning to keep crisis situations involving the mentally ill from becoming life-threatening. Professional actors will offer live simulations of incidents to engage participants in learning how to react to crisis situations, said Ron Gurley, program manager for the NMSU Crisis Intervention Training Program.

The public is invited to a featured presentation by a leader in crisis intervention training, Maj. Sam Cochran of the Memphis Police Department. He will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at the Gerald Thomas Hall auditorium on campus.

"This training has been conducted nationally and has been shown to improve officer safety, reduce wrongful death lawsuits and improve the welfare of the mentally ill," Gurley said. The training is jointly sponsored by Dona Ana County and the National Sheriffs' Association.

Participants undergoing the 40-hour, March 24-28 program are from Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna and Otero counties. They are drawn from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, sheriffs' departments, local and state police, U.S. Marshals Service and adult probation departments.

The actors from the NMSU drama department and Combat Arts, a company specializing in simulated combat, will present crisis episodes for officers. Lectures on mental illness and pharmacology will be presented by medical and social work experts.

"Officers need to know how prescribed, legal and illegal substances interact with different mental illnesses and develop the ability to discern what kind of interactions they may be dealing with," Gurley said.

Anyone wanting more information on the program can contact Gurley at (575) 649-2846.