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Auburn police complete state mandated crisis intervention training

The training is inteneded to teach better tools and techniques for dealing with those in crisis.

The Auburn Police Department has completed the crisis intervention training mandated by state law, aimed at giving police officers better tools for safely responding to those experiencing mental crises.

The law was implemented in 2015. It is known as the Douglas M. Ostling act, named after a man who was killed by police in Bainbridge Island. Ostling was believed to have been mentally ill and died due to lack of medical attention after he was shot.

Ostling’s family, who later sued the city, claimed that the lack of training for mental health scenarios in the police department was partly to blame for Ostling’s death.

The training program, mandated by the act, is intended to give police officers better training and tools for safely dealing with individuals “experiencing an emotional, mental, physical, behavioral, or chemical dependency crisis, distress, or problem.”

Auburn Police Chief Daniel O’Neil said the program, which all of the department’s commissioned officers participated in, “provides officers with a clear understanding of the legal aspects of mental health commitments, liability issues, mental disorders, and the understanding of mental illness.”

O’Neil said APD began this training after July 1, 2017, when it was mandated. A majority of the training was completed by veteran officers by 2019 or 2020. Entry level officers completed this training as part of the academy. The mandate required that the training be completed by 2021.

“The training increases an officer’s ability to have positive interactions with community members who suffer from mental illness,” said O’Neil.

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