HPD partners with homeless service providers to train newest officers in de-escalation

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) — At a symposium with the Institute of Human Services, the latest batch of Honolulu police officers participated in a training focused on working with the homeless community on Oahu.

The session is part of the HPD initiative to enhance crisis intervention and mental health response training.

β€œWhen police officers understand people better and have other tools to de-escalate and understand someone when they are going through something, I think our community is safer,” said Connie Mitchell, IHS executive director.

The most recent chronological count counted nearly 4,000 homeless people on Oahu.

HPD says that in any given shift, especially in urban areas, 40-50% of calls can be related to homeless people.

β€œWe want to break the revolving door,” said Major Mike Lambert, HPD Training Division.

β€œI can guarantee you that if we arrest someone for drinking in public and do no other service, they will drink in public tomorrow and that is the truth of the matter.”

Officers also work to distinguish the difference between crime and personal crisis, where support services are an option rather than arrest.

“We’re going to have interactions and we’re going to miss it,” Lambert explained.

β€œIn the sense that they either committed a crime or not, and that’s how it ended up. I would say over the past four or five years, we’ve really enhanced our diversion options by working with partners like IHS to make sure that if it wasn’t an arrest, if There was nothing, maybe we could send them to service.”

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Starting next month, Lambert says HPD recruits will become nationally certified in mental health response and first aid training.

“I think we need to be good at matching a particular service to a person’s needs and that’s where evaluation comes in,” Mitchell said.

“I think when police officers are trained to acquire this kind of assessment skills, it can only be beneficial for our community.”

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