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Nov 12, 2009

Officers train in methods of handling the mentally challenged

Story PictureIt happens every now and then that police officers are called out to restore law and order when a person with mental challenges is behaving disorderly. But officers have often times been accused of not knowing how to handle these situations. So today, the Belize Police Department and the Ministry of Health conducted training for the first batch of officers. The event was a refresher following the publication of a manual developed for police officers in 2007 on this topic. And today’s forum appeared to be a lively one.

Dr. Claudina Cayetano, Trainer
“The officers are informed of where the clinics are located, who are working at the clinics, if possible bring a nurse along with them to be able to treat the patient because remember here what we’re trying to do is to avoid violence so we do it as safe as possible.”

ASP Linden Flowers, Trainee
“It is a situation that we come in contact with everyday in our daily routine, dealing with mental issues and I think now that it is time we continue the process. It is something that we intend to do on a more regular basis to get all our officers sensitized in dealing with the issues.”

Marion Ali
“Where are the gaps?”

Sarah McDonald, Mental Health Researcher
“At the moment I think there could be much more developments to protect exactly what people’s rights are who have mental health issues to make sure that they are incarcerated until they have some advice from a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurses to make that decision and it’s not just made by the courts or by the police.”

Marion Ali
“There’s always a thin line between using justifiable force and police brutality. How do you arrive at what is justifiable force?”

WPC Kendra Robateau, Trainee
“Well first if my life deh eena danger then I wah have to protect myself first and foremost but if deh noh di cause no threat to me then I wah try my best fi talk to them and get them under control but we noh usually deh eena wah situation without wah psychiatric nurse on hand.”

As a member of the World Health Organization, Belize is expected to meet the standards of the WHO on how our authorities deal with mental health patients.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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