Officers Learn To Approach PTSD Differently - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Officers Learn To Approach PTSD Differently

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by Adam Ghassemi

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Dealing with someone holed-up and making threats while struggling with a mental disorder can be one of the most extreme situations for officers.

But what if it didn't have to get that far?

"We want to put another thing in their tool bag, if you will, on how to approach and handle the situation to keep it deescalated," said Command Sgt. Maj. James Smith with Fort Campbell's Warrior Transition Battalion.

Friday, Smith spoke to Montgomery County deputies and investigators to debunk myths about dealing with people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other behavioral issues.

"When they hear a loud bang, you know, Hollywood sometimes portrays them as hitting the floor. That does not always happen," Smith said.

Their symptoms can mimic someone addicted to drugs, according to Smith. It can be hard to tell the difference. He said the key is not going-in heavy handed.

"If you approach in a calm, even-tone manner and give very clear, concise instructions, that really helps the situation," Smith went on to say.

Smith is providing training to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and hopes it will mean better service to as many people as possible. He says no officer should ever drop their guard if they don't need to, putting themselves and others in danger.

"Cooperation requires communication and that entails the ability to enter a sensitive dialog with folks who are particularly vulnerable or at risk," said Sgt. John Stone of MCSO's Personnel and Training Division.

Smith, a Clarksville Police Department Captain when he's not serving, knows both sides of the problem and how behavioral disorders reach far beyond the post.

"It does not necessarily have to be a solider. It could be anybody," he said.

Resources for people who need help:


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