Franklin Police Officers undergo training in mental illness, crisis intervention, situation de-escalation


FPD Sergeant Mike Stephens training Franklin Police Officers

In 2014, Williamson was the number two highest county in Tennessee for suicides by children, 10-19 years old. In 2015, the Franklin Police Department responded to 72 reported suicide attempts; four incidents ended with the tragic loss of someone’s life. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people in the U.S. who are 10-24 years old. The numbers are staggering.

Today begins a new, two-day crisis intervention curriculum for Franklin Police Officers. As the city grows, the needs of our community increase in both depth and scope. “Police officers are often the first on scene when someone is suicidal or in crisis,” said Chief Deborah Faulkner. “The ability to correctly identify what a person is experiencing and know how to talk to them is the first step in getting them the lifesaving help they desperately need. The Franklin Police Department is committed to implementing best practices into our response protocols so we can assist the citizens we serve, and continue to make a difference in our community.”

Over the next two days, 16 officers will learn about mental illness, behavior disorders, the best de-escalation skills when dealing with people in crisis, suicide warning signs and prevention, and the legalities that surround these and related issues. Tomorrow, experienced mental health advocates will guide officers through a day of role-play scenarios designed to test and teach officers how to best deal with the unique challenges that arise while serving people who are in extreme crisis.

Chief Faulkner said, “While we are starting with 16 officers, this training will be rolled out to all 128 of our sworn personnel. Police officers are not mental health professionals, but we do care deeply about how to best serve people who are facing some of the worst moments of their lives.”

The training has been coordinated by certified crisis intervention instructor, Franklin Police Sergeant Mike Stephens. Classes have been built from a national curriculum that certifies officers in crisis intervention, and is considered best practice for de-escalation by mental health and public safety professionals.