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Monday, November 4, 2019

A Fall 2019 Recap: Beyond the Training and Presentations

A panel at this fall's Chisholm Regional Meeting
included (L-R) Police Chief Vern Manner,
LMC Deputy Director Luke Fischer,
LMCIT Field Representative Tracy Stille,
and LMC Executive Director Dave Unmacht.
It has been a busy fall with three police workshops, eight Regional Meetings, and the Mental Health First Aid class.

The police workshops — Force Science’s Realistic De-Escalation — were well attended and certainly added to the officers’ tools in handling these difficult cases. One officer told me it “filled in the gaps” for him based on his previous training and experience. The use of body cameras, squad cameras, and surveillance video recordings helped illustrate the course objectives, and use of the “Azar-Dickens Police Assessment Matrix” helped officers understand the behavior they were seeing. And yes, as some of you noticed, the training aligns with the PATROL online courses on this subject.

The Regional Meetings focused on region-specific topics and a legislative update. This year it also included a panel discussion covering “Insights on How Your City and Council Can Support First Responders.” The panel included a local police chief at each location, LMC Executive Director Dave Unmacht, and a representative of the League’s Insurance Trust. LMC Deputy Director Luke Fisher moderated. I was on the panel in Thief River Falls, and we were about a minute into the discussion when we had our first question from a city official. It was like that at each location. I want to extend a special thank you to the chiefs who participated in this important panel discussion and shared their personal experiences:

-Chief Mike Hedlund (East Grand Forks PD)
-Chief Naomi Plautz (Wadena PD)
-Chief Vern Manner (Chisholm PD)
-Chief Jim Felt, (Willmar PD)
-Chief Dave Bentrud (Waite Park PD)
-Chief Matt Andres (Sleepy Eye PD)
-Chief David McKichan, (Austin PD)
-Chief Stephanie Revering (Crystal PD)

Mental Health First Aid for firefighters was held in Windom on November 1 and 2, and it was a full class. During this two-day course, attendees discussed what they may encounter in the field and how to help defuse the situation. Calm conversations, open ended questions, and non-judgmental conversations are all skills to better improve the one-on-one conversations with someone in a mental health crisis. This is our fourth year of partnering with Fairview Hospitals sponsoring this national course and its importance is only increasing.

Finally, I want to mention all of the questions and comments that you brought to our staff. Many of these start out with the words “I didn’t want to bother you,” or “This is probably not that important.” It’s what happens when we have face-to-face contact that the threshold for reaching out or asking a question is lower. It was all important, and more often than not I did not know the answer but found someone who did. And many of you shared your insights, thoughts, and experiences that provided context — particularly in the mental health topics.

I thank all of you for attending, participating, and asking questions.

Up next: National Trends in Social Media

Stay safe,

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