Consistent mental health training keeps Elkhart police prepared for mental illness incidents

NOW: Consistent mental health training keeps Elkhart police prepared for mental illness incidents


ELKHART, Ind. — On Friday, Elkhart police officers were dispatched to Outer Drive. Upon arrival, they found a man naked, armed with a machete, and clear he was dealing with issues mentally.

The officers subdued the gentlemen and then transported him to a mental health facility to receive the proper care.

Officers mentioned, this situation could have gone much differently but didn’t thanks to one thing.

Consistent mental health training.

“It was obvious right away that this gentleman was going through a mental crisis", said Elkhart Police Lieutenant Travis Snider.

The man was unresponsive to officers, screaming, and even swinging a machete in their direction.

Once he approached the officers wielding the machete, they used tasers to detain the man after a rubber bullet was ineffective.

No harm came from the situation, and officers thanked their annual mental health training, that mental health officials believe more people need.

“If we could train people about hey, these are kind of the ways that you could respond to these situations, then maybe we have better outcomes for the police and the community”, said Opioid Response Unit Coordinator at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center Luke Lefever.

The Elkhart Police Department participates in mental health first aid, and their annual five-day crisis intervention training here in Elkhart. These pieces of training are key because they expound on all the appropriate measures when faced with this situation.

“Our force on force training, is a great example of this, we will have ppl playing the person with a mental health crisis, or a drug-induced situation or just agitated in general”, said Lieutenant Snider.

Mental Health experts mentioned the more officers that continue to receive these pieces of training, will only ensure proper measures continue to be taken within Elkhart.

“Getting more officers trained in mental health first aid and also the crisis intervention training, the CIT, would be huge because as soon as you have more officers training than the likelihood of the person whose responding to that call is also the one who has that training”, said Lefever.

Those at the police department believe, the training is a great tool, but experience reigns supreme when dealing with these situations moving forward.

“Use this incident, too train for the next one, so every time we go to a call we re-evaluating that”, said Lieutenant Snider.

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