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November 17, 2017

Mental health awareness prompts change in SWAT tactics


Mental health awareness prompts change in SWAT tactics

BENTONVILLE, Ark. —Law enforcement agencies across the country are changing the way they respond to…


Law enforcement agencies across the country are changing the way they respond to emergency calls, largely in part due to changes in mental health in our communities.

We had the chance to attend a training with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT and Crisis Negotiations teams. Benton County’s SWAT meets every two weeks and the Crisis Negotiations Team often trains with them.

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Lt. Greg Stevenson, the commander of the Crisis Negotiations Team, says they’ve seen a sharp increase in call-outs in the last ten years, “I say it would probably be double, borderline triple. The situations that come from people’s lives, whether it be from social media or the decisions they made plays a big part how they feel about themselves and how they feel about other people when their thought process is a little different.”

Lt. Stevenson says he think it’s a change in culture, “these days what’s socially accepted is different from what it was five or ten years ago, what someone thinks about themselves or others, at some point in time, is either allowed or the freedom of speech, is able to be projected loudly, as five or ten years ago, it wasn’t.”

Dr. Virginia Krauft with the Center for Psychology in Rogers agrees there’s been a shift in culture. She tells 40/29 News, the culture is much faster now. She says, “when people are anxious, in the olden days when we lived with cavemen and we came up to anxiety or something, we called it fight or flight, but that is not what people do these days. We either go into depression, you know i don’t want to get out of bed, or we get highly agitated.” Dr. Krauft has been practicing for 45 years. In her 45 years of practice, she says she has seen an increased problem with anxiety. She states, “people don’t know what to do calm down and that is a serious problem.”

When people are anxious, Dr. Krauft says, they revert to authority figures. She says, “what they do is what a child would do. They want to go to mamma or daddy or that security, so where do we go? If we are an adult and we’re anxious, we go to authorities, and so i think it would make sense that people are calling those people in position of authority.”

Captain Kenneth Paul is the team leader with Benton County’s SWAT. He says there are tactical changes that have been key in dealing with the rise of calls related to PTSD, mental breakdowns, and stand-offs.

Paul says, “back in the day, several years ago, everything would be a dynamic entrance, basically, you would send your entire team and flood them into a house. But, we’ve backed off of that and its more of a slow and methodical entry.” He says SWAT training is mostly about watching out for teammates. He tells 40/20 News, “everything we do and everything we train for is to ensure our guys go home safe as night.”


Source: Mental health awareness prompts change in SWAT tactics

Mental health awareness prompts change in SWAT tactics


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