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Kane County plans no-refusal operation on Thanksgiving eve

Crisis intervention team training sets added dates

ST. CHARLES – To combat drunken driving, law enforcement officers will be in place at undisclosed locations across Kane County the night before Thanksgiving for a no-refusal operation, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said at his monthly media briefing. He also highlighted the county’s just-launched crisis intervention team training program for police.

The evening of Nov. 22 will be the date for the no-refusal operation for suspected drunken drivers who decline to submit to a breath test after an arrest for driving under the influence.

McMahon said the date was chosen because it tends to be a night of drinking and driving. The other no-refusal date this year was July 4. The coming operation will be the 22nd in about nine years, he said, with 138 people charged with DUI in total.

After two years of planning, the county’s first crisis intervention team training course was held in October with 26 participants. The second five-day session is planned from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1. The specialized training provides officers with tools to better respond to someone they encounter who is having a mental health crisis, enabling them to de-escalate the situation.

McMahon said the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board again will monitor the training, and, if all goes well, will grant certification to the county’s program, approving both the curriculum and the individual presenters.

The cost so far has been about $7,000 to $8,000 for a five-day session, McMahon said, noting it covers the professional speakers, as well as actors involved in role playing and capital costs. Presenters include psychologists, social workers, former police officers and assistant state’s attorneys.

He said feedback has been positive from officers, including appreciation for a portion of the training that lets them experience firsthand what it is like to have schizophrenia, including the inner voices people may hear.

The officers wear headphones with audio that simulates inner voices, McMahon said, noting they gained understanding of the special challenges people with mental health issues face while hearing contradictory voices overlaid by the commands of a police officer trying to direct their actions.

“They can empathize better … can compensate,” he said of the officers.

Fifty-two people are expected to have completed the training this calendar year, with the goal of holding four sessions in 2018. Law enforcement will work to have CIT graduates represented on every shift, said McMahon, who envisions they will be called upon by neighboring departments as the need arises, much like involving the Kane County Major Crimes Task Force or Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team.

The first 40-hour training took place Oct. 16 to 20 with officers from 13 police agencies – Aurora, Batavia, Carpentersville, Elgin, Geneva, Illinois State Police, Kane County Sheriff’s Office, North Aurora, St. Charles, Sleepy Hollow, Sugar Grove, Wayne and West Dundee.

McMahon issued a statement after the initial training session.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to present this training to Kane County police officers,” he said. “It is so important for the overall health of a community that officers have the best possible tools at their disposal when they respond to a complex situation. This training not only could save the life of a person in crisis, it also could save the officer’s own life. Thanks to the members of the county board for generously funding this project, to Sheriff Donald Kramer for his leadership, and to the Fox River Valley Initiative for its support and for creating awareness in the community about the importance of CIT training.”

It took more than two years of collaboration between the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office to bring about having CIT training taught in-house, Kramer stated last month. He noted the possibility that all 1,200 police officers in Kane County eventually would receive the training.

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