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Since he was a teenager, Clint Anderson has heard voices that aren't there, struggling to differentiate between the real and the imagined, and discern when he is facing a threat versus a friend.
The challenge, he told a legislative committee Monday, is not unique, and police officers interacting with people like him need to be trained to be aware and how to handle those situations.
"You don't have to coddle them; you don't have to give them special treatment, because there are going to be times when these people are aggressive and you kind of have to take into account your safety, as well as theirs," said the 35-year-old Logan man. "But it's also quite possible their perception of what is going on is not generally the perception of what is occurring in that situation."
The training that police officers receive to handle those encounters, as well as other issues related to the use of force, is part of an ongoing analysis by the Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee, which wants to home in on policies and practices that could minimize violent confrontations between police and citizens.
"Our police have not been trained in many instances to deal with those [encounters] in anything but a criminal-justice way, and now they're being asked to be social workers," said Ken Wallentine, the former head of law enforcement at the Utah attorney general's office, who now consults with departments nationwide.
Currently, officers can enroll in a 40-hour crisis-intervention training (CIT) course, designed to help them recognize and handle situations that might involve the mentally ill or other encounters that require special consideration.
But the special sessions are not a standard part of police-officer training, said Scott Stephenson, director of the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training. Departments decide whom to send to the CIT courses and, especially when it comes to rural Utah departments, those decisions are deterred by the cost of the program and the lack of spare manpower.
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, pointed to the 2009 instance when one of her former students, Brian Cardall, had a mental breakdown and was killed when officers in southern Utah used a Taser to subdue him. Hurricane ended up settling a wrongful-death lawsuit for $2 million.
Better training could have avoided that, she said, and should be mandatory for officers.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, suggested that, if the courses work and are of value to the state, then Utah should come up with the money to pay for it.
But POST's Stephenson (no relation to the senator) said that including it in the normal police academy classes diminishes the effectiveness of the CIT training.
"If it's in POST," he said, "it's just another class and doesn't have the same impact."
Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, a Utah Highway Patrol lieutenant who received the training two years ago, agreed.
"By mandating and saying every officer has to go through CIT training," Perry said, "there's no guarantee every officer will adhere to it."
Monday's hearing was the first in a series of topics the committee plans to address this summer, including how "use-of-force" incidents are investigated, the use of body cameras, psychological evaluations for police applicants and whether officers should be required to earn post-high school degrees.
But Sen. Jim Dabakis, D- Salt Lake City, said lawmakers are missing out on a key part of the story in hearing so extensively only from law enforcement.
"I have a grave concern that we're talking to the choir here," Dabakis said. "We need to hear the story not so much from our prosecutors and police officers who tell us everything is fine. … My question [as I look] across this sea of white is: Where are the victims? Where are the people who are going to cause Utah to have another Ferguson or another Baltimore?"