Disability Capitol Action Day 2015: Chatted with Assemblyman Patterson about Behavioral Training for Officers

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Participated in Disability Capitol Action Day (DCAD) in Sacramento, California on May 20, 2015. This year was the celebration of the 25th year of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the West Lawn was busy with advocacy, booths, and networking. This day also provides opportunity to talk to legislators (or their representatives) about important issues and bills that affect those of us with disabilities.

I used my opportunity to chat with Assemblyman Jim Patterson about the importance of behavioral training for police officers and other first responders. This past year I’ve learned that police officers are the first to respond to a 5150 call and most often aren’t trained in behavioral health, informed about basic services and support networks in the community, and aren’t qualified to designate a true 5150 status. This often leads to a revolving door issue and creates more tension and issues with the families who originally called in for help. Often folks with brain disorders are left to languish in ERs that aren’t equipped to help them. Through all of this, stigma affects everything.

On the legislative agenda are SB 11 and SB 29 (Beall). These require increased behavioral training for police officers to better prepare them for working with people with mental health or intellectual disabilities. SB 11 requires 20 hours of classroom training and SB 29 requires 20 hours of field training. Both would deal with proven crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques.

This type of training would benefit both officers and folks dealing with a mental health crisis and reduce negative interactions between the two.

In the community outreach in Fresno, it’s been my experience that the officers are greatly appreciative of the knowledge and want more of this type of training.

Overall, it was a great day and really a great infuser of community spirit.

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First photo: Selfie shot at the Capitol.

Second photo/Third photo: Early start to catch the bus provided by Resources for Independence Central Valley (RICV.org) for many folks, including Fresno’s Disability Advocacy Team (DAT).

Fourth photo: Hanging out with the Each Mind Matters crew at their booth.

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