It's crisis intervention training week for some central WA polic - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

It's crisis intervention training week for some central WA police officers

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YAKIMA, WA - More than a dozen officers who work in central Washington are doing extensive training this week in Yakima. 

The training is specifically targeting crisis intervention. Officers are learning how to recognize when people are in distress. 

18 law enforcement officials from several local agencies are taking part in the 40-hour week-long training. So far this week, they've had classes on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness; how to deal with someone who's suicidal or has autism or dementia. 

A big chunk of the training focuses on what police can do to de-escalate situations when they're responding to calls. The cops who are participating say this type of training is vital for them to do their jobs.

"As patrol officers, that's generally who responds when people are in crisis and they call 911, and the more tools we have to help deal with these people the better outcome it is for everybody," said Officer Philip Amici with the Yakima Police Department.

"Instead of going to an automatic, 'well you didn't do what I asked you to do so I'm going to arrest you' or 'I'm going to do this or that,' and taking the time to really understand why they might be in crisis or why they're reacting the way that they are," said Officer Claudia Padilla with the Yakima Police Department.

Officers are also learning what to do after coming in contact with someone who's in distress, including getting them mental healthcare.

Every officer doesn't have the ability to take the week-long class, but a 2015 state law requires all officers to have at least eight hours of crisis intervention training.

About 25 percent of the entire state's patrol force receive the 40-hour training, and police hope it will help prevent tragedies in the future.

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