COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Colbert County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) hosted a mental health and PTSD training program for their deputies and other law enforcement on Friday.
The program was a two-part training exercise. In the first part, deputies were taught to identify people who may have a mental illness and the proper ways to handle those situations.
The second part of the program teaches law enforcement officers different ways to handle their own mental health after a traumatizing experience.
CCSO Sheriff Eric Balentine told News 19 that the department has never had this type of training, and he will consider making it a mandatory annual exercise.
“This was a no-brainer for me,” Balentine said. “I’ve been a police officer for 27 years and this, in my opinion, needs to be a mandatory training annually.”
The program was hosted by Sgt. Shane Blalock, a Florence Police Officer and coordinator of the Community Mental Health Officer program in Lauderdale County.
Blalock told News 19 that officers often go through severe traumatic experiences, which is why he began to include PTSD training and awareness in his programs.
“The average person in the US has six critical incidents in their lifetime,” Blalock said. “The average police officer in Alabama has 81 during their career.”
Sgt. Blalock says PTSD from those traumatic events can eventually lead to severe negative effects on the mental health of those officers.
“The divorce rate, substance abuse rate, abuse rate, suicide rate…all of that is related to stress and dealing with stress appropriately,” Blalock said.