We’ve already the challenges addressing homelessness poses for law enforcement. The interaction of substance use, mental health issues, and chronic physical health issues among the homeless conspire to create a reinforcing cycle:
Poor behavior and poor decisions create negative interactions with the public. These necessitate the involvement of law enforcement and lead to temporary incarceration. Physical and mental health–often compounded by substance withdrawal–then lead to further poor decisions, further negative interactions, and further involvement in the justice system. It often feels like water swirling down the drain. And it certainly translates to money swirling down the drain.
We know that proper training can help slow, and even break, this cycle. The California Highway Patrol has demonstrated one approach that’s proven remarkably effective.
Simulation-based Homeless Training for Law Enforcement
The California Highway Patrol’s Mental Illness Response Program (MIRP) has been using FAAC’s MILO Mental Health Response Training System as the basis of their 16-hour Crisis Intervention Training Course (CITC) since early 2019. According to instructor Gordon Shake “This course is revolutionary in the training approach when it comes to mental illness and crisis intervention. We have been able to film and create over 15 different complex branching scenarios [in MILO] to use in the course. The course is set up so a principle is instructed then immediately a random student or two are chosen to go through an applicable scenario. The feedback has been great.”
One officer who had been through the MIRP program explained, “This course was very helpful. I constantly work in an area that deals with a lot of homeless and mentally ill pedestrians. Watching others perform scenarios and getting debriefed helped me a lot.”
Several elements of the MILO Mental Health Response Training System have proven an asset to MIRP. First and foremost, all MILO systems include trainee performance capture and after-action review and debriefing modules. These make it possible for instructors to objectively track progress and offer consistent, in-depth after-action review. These MILO “human interaction simulation” training systems all ship with up to 1000 unique training scenarios with dozens of interaction and outcomes paths to help officers practice the fundamental skills needed to assist individuals who are experiencing homelessness and crisis. These scenarios address the delicate overlap among homelessness, chronic physical health issues/disability, mental health, and substance use/dependence.
MILO Range also offers a suite of tools for crafting your own local high-impact custom training scenarios. By crafting your own scenarios, you can be sure your officers can productively navigate the unique challenges your community faces using your own policies on issues local to you.