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Sheriff’s office addresses mental health

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office is doing what it can to address the mental health crisis in not only the county, but in the nation.

Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue has authorized Crisis Intervention Training, which will be headed by Commander Bill Ward.

“It’s all about mental health, de-escalation and alternatives to incarceration,” Ward said. “We received some federal grant funding for it and have selected a deputy to be the coordinator for the program. They are responsible for bringing the CIT training to Madera County. It’s a 40-hour course that trains law enforcement.”

The MCSO will be working with the National Alliance for Mental Illness in the Fresno chapter, who are the owners of the training program.

“It’s a collaboration between NAMI and us,” Ward said.

Ward said the main reason for the push for mental health training is to be more prepared for mental illness calls.

“There’s a heavy focus on de-escalation and a heavy focus on alternatives,” Ward said. “The main push of this program is to bring the training course of law enforcement to Madera. In addition, one of the goals is to build better collaboration between the departments and entities within the counties that work with mental illness issues.

“The program will address a lot of different things. The training component is huge. They will work with the homeless and behavioral issues at the county, as well as getting our deputies trained. The goal is to respond more appropriately with behavioral crisis. We want to try to divert them from jail and find other options for them.”

One of Ward’s goals is to try to get a collaboration from all entities in the county that deal with mental health.

“Anyone that is involved in addressing the mental illness issues, we are going to try to collect them together to have a more collaborative approach,” Ward said.

Training will begin at the MCSO within three months.

“We secured the funding and all of the behind-the-scenes work has been moving,” Ward said.


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