Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene's Staff Attends Multiple Pieces of Training To Support Team and Community Safety

Submitted by gallagha on Thu, 08/11/2022 - 09:45


DUNKIRK, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene (CCDMH) receives training to serve its community better. On July 29, 2022, Deputy Jason Beichner and Deputy Chad Wright of the Chautauqua County Sherriff’s Office provided training to the team on Defensive tactics in a mental health setting. Deputy Beichner is with the Road Division, K-9, and SWAT divisions. Deputy Wright is with the Road and K-9 divisions, and he is certified in defensive tactics and has been trained extensively in mental health.

Defensive tactics’ curriculum included verbal de-escalation techniques, stances, special awareness, attack prevention, and manipulation of surroundings. The training, presented to over 100 CCDMH employees, gave real-world solutions for real-world circumstances. The practical and tactical skills demonstrated were comprehensive and relevant to increasing all safety.

The CCDMH team also received training from Deputy Director Trish McClennan and Program Coordinator Rachel Ludwig. An outline of available staff supports was shared, including a self-care tool, education opportunities, and skill-specific resources.

“We used a bit of humor; our presentation focused on the staff holistically to unify the team,” said Ludwig.

Their training also included a segment on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT is a modified type of cognitive behavior therapy. DBT’s primary goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others. McClennan shared how using this technique effectively in team dialogue can benefit all from this perspective.

Rounding out the training trilogy, on August 9, 2022, the team was invited to attend an introduction of the School Threat Assessment and Response “STAR” team, a multidisciplinary group comprised of law enforcement agencies, mental health agencies, prosecutors, child protective services, probation officers, and school superintendents who assess and manage persons who may be considering school violence. The STAR team has been recognized as an innovative program by the National Prosecutors’ Consortium.

Brent S. Isaacson, Chief of Police, NYS University Police, the University of New York, and STAR co-founder, facilitated STAR training. Isaacson discussed considerations in threat assessment and provided opportunities for attendees to be proactive in approach and response to and with students who may be of concern.

Some presentation points covered were an overview of research findings and case studies that help elucidate the psychological factors that drive offenders into acts of targeted violence against schools, businesses, and workplaces, examples of pre-attack offender behaviors from mass casualty events, and best practices approach in identifying persons of concern and mitigating the threats they pose were explained.

Isaacson served for 23 years as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Before joining the FBI, he served six years as a U.S. navy officer and nuclear engineer in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. In 2019, he was appointed to his current position at the university.

“We are fortunate to be able to provide this training for our team and to have a high level of engagement from the staff, “said CCDMH Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services Carmelo Hernandez. “We have adopted a proactive approach and hope to mitigate potentially high-risk situations.”




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