Military beat: Police share info on vets in crisis

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 22, 2012 - 5:45 PM

A one-day course is scheduled next month to teach law enforcement personnel de-escalation tactics for military veterans in crisis.

The course, hosted by the Lakeville Police Department and the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute, recognizes the unique circumstances first responders often face when dealing with veterans. The eight-hour class teaches cops, 911 dispatchers, emergency medical responders, jail personnel, chaplains and others who may encounter a veteran in crisis how to use verbal tactical skills to defuse potentially dangerous situations. It also will deal with the effects of multiple deployments, understanding the emotional impact of war-time stressors, challenges of veterans with reintegration and definitions and how to identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders affecting veterans.

The Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute is a nonprofit organization that offers comprehensive consulting services and customized training on a local and national scale.

As a testament to the importance of the topic, the class is already full and there is a waiting list.

The classes are being offered as it becomes more clear that veterans facing the criminal justice system often bring special needs. Last month, the Ramsey County attorney's office and the Minnesota Alliance on Crime presented a program on PTSD in the criminal justice system.

While not excusing the behavior, after 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, civilian courts nationwide are acknowledging that some veterans' crimes can be traced back to the combat zone and that jail or prison time often isn't the best answer. Statistics compiled by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals show that 70 percent of defendants in specialty courts such as the vets courts finish their programs and that 75 percent do not reoffend for at least two years.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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