The Santa Barbara Police Department worked last week with the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter on specialized training for all of the patrol officers.
The training is designed to better equip officers who respond to calls for service involving people with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia and their caregivers. According to a news release from the police department, the training offered a deeper understanding of the disease and covered best practices for how officers may respond in specific situations.
Officers respond to dementia cases often, including calls for service and missing persons reports, in which the person with dementia is considered at-risk.
“We need to adapt and evolve as an agency,” Sgt. Stephanie Trujillo said in the news release. “I believe this training will help us better communicate and interact with members of our community living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as their families.”
Kathryn Cherkas, director of the programs at the Alzheimer’s Association chapter, taught the first portion of the training on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The second part is slated to be held later this year.
“There is an urgent need for this type of training in Santa Barbara,” Ms. Cherkas said. “For the thousands of individuals with dementia living at home and their caregivers, 9-1-1 is almost always their only backup. It’s the first line of defense for so many. And due to the unique nature of the disease, the police need to be trained to be aware of what they’re dealing with and what resources are available for support.”
The interactive training sessions also serve as a time for the Alzheimer’s Association to receive feedback from Santa Barbara police officers. The police department explained in its news release that the goal is to identify
new opportunities to best serve the community by partnering together and sharing resources.
For more about the local Alzheimer’s chapter, go to www.alz.org/cacentralcoast.