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Meade County approves mental health intervention training for officers

A Meade County Sheriff's Office patrol vehicle (file)
Meade County Sheriff's Office
A Meade County Sheriff's Office patrol vehicle (file)

Meade County Sheriffs’ deputies will receive a proposed crisis intervention training program. The mental health emergency training was approved by a full county commission table this week.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the training grant which will require the hiring of an additional deputy trained in crisis intervention.

The board initially stalled on the decision over cost concerns and a lack of a full board for voting.

Sheriff Pat West said now it’s time to figure out precisely who will be in that position.

“We may look at potentially filling that position with someone that’s already a deputy in our office and then backfilling that position," West said. "I’d suspect we have a few deputies that are veteran deputies who would be interested in this position.”

West said once that position is filled and trained, he anticipates department and jail-wide training for officers by mid-2024.

“This is something we initially saw at the beginning of the year – there’s an increase in these type of calls," West said. "The deputies were having to deal with people, and we wanted to do whatever we could to provide the additional training to them to be able to deal with these situations.”

He said the training will build a safer environment for everyone.

“The main thing of this thing is to help our deputies in the field prevent from having to use escalating force and to decompress the situation to get those people out of a mental health crisis and get them the help they need,” West said.

West said they plan to work with nearby departments like Box Elder Police Department and Rapid City Police Department to implement the training and share the results.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture