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Jefferson County constables train for crisis situations

Brandon Moseley

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Constables from Jefferson County were among hundreds of Law Enforcement Officers who participated in the National Constables and Marshals Association (NCMA) Training Conference in Orange Beach, Alabama, on April 3-6, 2018.

The officers participated in Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training in multiple areas: including Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE),  Hostage & Crisis Negotiation, Officer Ambush, Active Shooter Event Response (ASER) and Improving Police Response to People Affected by Mental Illness.

“This year’s NCMA Training Conference was a tremendous opportunity for training as well as meeting other officers from across the nation,” District 48 Constable Jonathan Barbee said in a statement.  “Mass shootings are a danger we all face, as we’ve seen at Huffman and UAB Highlands. Even though this training was scheduled months before either of these shootings, it was a good opportunity for us to become certified to teach response techniques to churches, businesses and schools.  All of us who are certified will be teaching Active Shooter Response classes in and around our home areas. We’re glad to be able to offer this service to our schools, churches and local businesses. It’s just one more way Constables help protect our communities.”

Barbee serves as Constable for District 48, which includes parts of south Jefferson County, Birmingham, Vestavia, Mt. Brook and Cahaba Heights.

Louis M. Dekmar, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) was the featured speaker at this year’s conference.  Dekmar spoke on the “One Mind” concept adopted by IACP, which focuses on uniting local communities, public safety organizations and mental health organizations so that the three become “of one mind.”

In 2015, there were an estimated 43.4 million adults in the United States were living with mental illness and it is estimated that 450 million people globally live with a mental illness. The identification and care of persons affected by mental illness has largely fallen to law enforcement in recent years due to a decline in the availability of community mental health resources. The IACP convened a panel of law enforcement and mental health experts to address law enforcement’s response and this collaboration resulted in the One Mind Campaign.

The police chiefs advocate that departments:

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  • Develop and implement a written policy addressing law enforcement response to persons affected by mental illness.
  • Demonstrate that 100 percent of sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers) are trained and certified in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).
  • Demonstrate that 20 percent of sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers) are trained and certified on the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.

Constables are elected law enforcement officers who provide a number of services and duties to the community. Constables are the oldest law enforcement position in the United States and were established before many state governments and county Sheriffs. Of Alabama’s 67 counties, 24 have Constables. Several counties plan to bring the Office of Constable back through local legislation in the coming year.

Jefferson County Constable’s Jonathan Barbee, Gilbert F. Douglas III, Joe Williams, Jim Franklin and Deputy Constables Joanne Sellers and Trisha Cassidy were certified to teach ASER tactics and methods at this year’s Conference.  These officers will be scheduling Active Shooter Training sessions for local schools, churches and businesses in the near future.

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