In response to the beating death of a mentally ill inmate, Santa Clara County will require crisis intervention training for all sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers.
The Sheriff’s Office has offered the 40-hour course for the past decade, but it will now include the course as part of the basic academy and correctional officer curriculum at the county’s Justice Training Center.
“This will directly result in a higher level of preparedness in future peace officers’ ability to engage and interact with mentally ill persons within the community as well as within the correctional facilities in the more effective and safe manner,” said Sheriff Laurie Smith, who will present a report on the issue at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “Also, the department is researching [crisis training] that is specific to the custody environment.”
The classes, offered in collaboration with the county’s Mental Health Department, teach officers how to recognize people with mental illness. There’s also a focus on identifying potential disorders and minimizing escalations to avoid force.
Just last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on a new state law that requires basic law enforcement training to address mental illness, intellectual disability and substance use disorders.
According to Sheriff Smith, more than 200 deputies have undergone crisis intervention training, including 122 sheriff’s deputies and 85 jail guards. To increase those numbers, the county will require each division in both enforcement and corrections to release a certain percentage of their staff for the training.
Meanwhile, the county will develop its own curriculum to teach deputies how to minimize personal bias.
Cadets currently receive five hours of training on racial profiling followed by a 24-hour block on bias-based policing and cultural diversity. At the end of each academy, they travel to the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, a human rights educational center. After academy training, deputies take a two-hour anti-bias class at least every five years as well as training on LGBTQ issues.
Correctional cadets, who plan to work inside the jails, take several more classes on recognizing implicit bias and how to monitor the mental health of inmates. The Corrections Academy also offers classes on gender, disability law and the Prison Rape Elimination Act and sexual harassment.
After reviewing existing curriculum, Sheriff Smith plans to develop an in-hour anti-bias training and a train-the-trainer approach. Once the coursework is approved by the state, she will ask supervisors for overtime funding to fill in for deputies while they attend training.
Supervisors asked Sheriff Smith to review implicit bias and crisis intervention curriculum after three jail guards allegedly beat to death mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree in August.
- Some 44 cars a day are stolen countywide, according to the Regional Auto Theft Task Force. To keep up with the growing incidence of theft, the task force is asking the county to double the vehicle license fee from $1 to $2, which would push annual revenue to $1.3 million.
- Supervisor Ken Yeager wants to find out if the 62-year-old merry-go-round in the Cambrian Park Plaza qualifies as a historical landmark. The carousel was built in 1953 by local developer Paul Schaeffer and, Yeager said, reminds longtime residents of the region’s pre-Silicon Valley era. “When asked to define the Cambrian neighborhood, many residents say that the Cambrian Park Carousel is the heart of this well-established community,” Yeager wrote in a memo. “By recognizing [its] historic value … we can ensure that it continues to turn as our valley evolves with time.”
- Santa Clara University will reserve 10 spots for county officials in upcoming government ethics courses. “Government ethics scandals continue to occupy the front pages of newspapers with alarming frequency,” Supervisor Joe Simitian wrote in a memo recommending that the county set aside $6,250 to sponsor the classes at SCU’s Markkulla Center for Applied Ethics. “As a result, levels of public trust in government and civic engagement remain historically low.” Under state law, local elected officials have to undergo training to learn about ethics laws, conflicts of interest, transparency and fair processes.
WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Office, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Clerk of the Board, 408.299.5001