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  1. #1
    Radar's Avatar
    Radar is offline We all bleed blue
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    Technology Helps Tennessee Officers See Through the Eyes of the Mentally Ill

    Technology Helps Tennessee Officers See Through the Eyes of the Mentally Ill

    Updated: October 27th, 2006 11:13 AM PDT

    CHRIS CONLEY
    The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

    A group of police officers training to assist mentally ill subjects were seeing things and hearing voices themselves Wednesday afternoon.

    But it was all to a good end - to help them avoid misunderstandings that can lead to deadly confrontations when they encounter a distraught and frightened mentally ill person.

    Wearing goggles and earphones hooked up to software called Virtual Hallucinations, the officers were able to see and hear what a schizophrenic person might experience - disembodied voices and visual hallucinations.

    The technology was made available for training to Crisis Intervention Team officers from the Memphis Police Department and other agencies, including the Millington and Bartlett police.

    The mentally disturbed person "is experiencing something that is very threatening," said Maj. Sam Cochran, who runs the CIT program.

    "Maybe he is not seeing me as a police officer but as a devil ... or the voices are telling him not to believe me," Cochran said.

    The Memphis CIT was the first of its kind in the country, beginning in 1988 as a collaboration between police and mental health officials after several violent confrontations.

    Since then, 500 or more other cities have copied the model, and departments as far away as Australia have shown interest.

    There are about 220 Memphis officers trained as CIT specialists, and they get about 12,000 calls a year. This is in addition to their regular responses to calls for service.

    In one virtual hallucination scenario, the CIT officers were able to see how a simple bus ride might seem to a mentally disturbed person as a scary event.

    The experience becomes ominous as voices come out of nowhere, terrifying and confusing. Nonexistent people pop up, then disappear.

    At one point, a motorcyclist pulls up alongside the bus and starts yelling in a threatening manner.

    "It's total overload," said Terry Winders, a CIT officer in training assigned to the Mt. Moriah Station.

    "It's the best tool for understanding what the person is seeing and hearing," Winders said. "The last thing they need is someone yelling and screaming and making it worse."

    Officer Dan Marguccio traveled to the training session with a team from Johnstown, Pa., where the police department is establishing a CIT program.

    The training promotes "empathy and understanding," said Bradley Cobb, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Memphis. "It's a great tool in helping the officers break through" to the troubled subject.

    - Chris Conley: 901-529-2595


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~

    BTW, a special Thanks goes out from all the non-cit officers to all of the CIT trained officers out there.

    Signal_W, btw, is (or was?) a CIT officer. Being a CIT officer puts a heavy strain on the CIT officer's personal life, taking more time away from friends and family, and challenging their own mental state at times. I know it's very trying being a CIT officer, and I admire and respect you guys for it. THANKS!!!!
    Here Speeder, Speeder, Speeder


    "Oderint dum metuant" - Caligula

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  2. #2
    General Patten's Avatar
    General Patten is offline Surgeon General
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    hmm... that would certainly be interesting to try for a while...
    SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING:
    Lead is very hazardous to your health.
    Always include Kevlar in your daily diet.


    "I always believe in being prepared, even when I'm dressed in white tie and tails."
    - Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

 

 

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