Mental health experts join in police response from Downtown News Magazine

April 27, 2022

By Lisa Brody

“I am very glad there are attempts to train the police. They are witnessing things everyday that are unimaginable for ordinary people,” said Alireza Amirsadri M.D., associate chairman of clinical services, Wayne State University School of Medicine who has been in crisis work, including with frontline workers, for over 30 years. He currently has a $1 million grant from the state of Michigan studying the traumas of first responders who have PTSD, and they are educating them on how to best recover.

Amirsadri noted that more than 80 percent of violent behavior is because of someone else – “a reactionary aggression to something or someone else,” which he explained is evolutionary for humans unless they are trained to not react. “With bias’ on both sides, it is destined to be a fire that is not going to be extinguished. Police need to be trained in a supportive manner rather than a challenging way, because it puts others on the defensive – it puts you in an evolutionary challenge. It is a ‘bullying’ or judging attitude, and if they have a weapon, that can reduce many incidents to violence.

“What we are trying to do right now through our grant with the state is train first responders to be more oriented to this and help them when they encounter people as they are under stress or distress, as are their families,” he said.

It is a ripple effect. The officers then bring it home, Amirsadri explained, and that is why they often have difficult partnerships. They are transferring their own distress and stresses to their partners and children, “and then the children endure the impact, and their longevity, health and welfare.

By adding in a mental health wellness component to the culture of policing, both within the department and in their law enforcement work, it is working to remove the concept of “other,” he said.

“The culture of ‘other’ is very pervasive in policing,” which Amirsadri said is an evolutionary phenomenon. “By telling them you’re working here, you don’t think of them as ‘other’ – you are part of the community and one with them.”

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Mental health experts join in police response from Downtown News Magazine
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