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Deputies train to respond to those with mental illness

The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department is trying to prepare its deputies to better recognize when someone is experiencing mental illness.

Pine Belt Mental Healthcare offers a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team training several times per year, and the Sheriff’s Department regularly sends deputies to it, said Maj. Joe Quave.

The training helps law enforcement officers learn to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness and teaches them about resources available for people experiencing mental health issues.

“Instead of assuming that somebody is going to be noncompliant, they may be able to recognize if someone is experiencing more than what meets the surface,” said Quave.

The training helps officers streamline the process of helping someone dealing with mental illness get access to the resources they need.

“We don’t want people in jail that don’t belong in jail and if they are in jail, it delays that process of getting them the mental health help they need,” said Quave.

Two of the department’s deputies, Austin Rancatore and Rony Polizzi, just completed the training. Six deputies at the department have completed it since it became available. The department plans to continue sending deputies to the trainings as they are available, said Quave.

“It’s one more tool they can have in their tool belt. We deal with such a wide array of people that any and everything that you can have to deal with different types of individuals is going to benefit the public and the department,” said Quave.