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North Pinellas letters: Sheriff gets kudos for crisis training

Re: Standoff in Dunedin

story, March 31

Sheriff gets kudos for crisis training

The Pinellas Mental Health Coalition, representing 44 local organizations, strongly commends Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats and the entire Pinellas County Sheriff's Office for its support of the Crisis Intervention Team program. This program has done much to improve officers' ability to interact with persons who have serious mental illnesses, reducing use of force while enhancing officer safety.

The benefits of CIT couldn't have been better illustrated than in the successful efforts recently by three CIT-trained deputies in intervening with a man threatening suicide on the Dunedin Causeway. The deputies, with their remarkable skill and patience, brought what could otherwise have been a lethal event to a peaceful conclusion. The hours of skilled intervention that day resulted in the man laying down his gun and agreeing to treatment.

While some people, particularly those isolated on Honeymoon Island, were inconvenienced, the safety of the suicidal man, the deputies and bystanders had to be prioritized. Each person affected by this incident would have hoped for the same degree of skill and training for his or her own loved one in the same circumstance.

Sheriff Coats has ensured the safety of all residents of Pinellas County, including persons with mental illnesses. There is no doubt that his foresight in ensuring that hundreds of deputies have participated in the intensive 40-hour CIT training program will continue to produce positive dividends to all Pinellas County residents.

Martha Lenderman,

vice chairwoman, Pinellas Mental Health Coalition

Re: Standoff in Dunedin

March 31

Training for crisis made a difference

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is a 40-hour course given at no charge to all law enforcement officers whose agencies will send them. Local mental health providers and advocates give this training.

On March 31 at approximately 1 p.m., a motorist noticed a man sitting in his vehicle with a handgun on the Dunedin Causeway out toward Honeymoon Island State Park. The motorist called 911 and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office dispatched CIT officers to respond to the call.

It was determined that the man was a suicide risk. The Sheriff's Office then dispatched a negotiating team including additional CIT officers. SWAT team officers were also dispatched to the scene.

After seven hours of negotiating, CIT officers with the help of a psychological coordinator were able to successfully de-escalate the situation and get the man who was in crisis to Morton Plant Hospital and then to Personal Enrichment Through Mental Health Services.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Sheriff's Office for its dedication to CIT. This is an example of an excellent resolution to a crisis situation that could have resulted in the loss of lives, including officers, innocent citizens and, of course, the individual in crisis.

Thank you, Sheriff Jim Coats and the CIT training teams that have prepared our officers to serve our community.

John Jones,

National Alliance on Mental Illness-Pinellas County

Delaware info was inaccurate

I read Francine Bradshaw's April 15 letter, Treasured parks need money, care, comparing Florida to Delaware, and I must say it was full of inaccuracies.

I am also a Delaware transplant who has been in Pinellas for 15 years. When I read her claim that there are no parks in Delaware, I about fell out of my chair.

Francine, you perhaps needed to leave the house on occasion. What about Rockford Park, Carpenter State Park, Cape Henlopen, Battery Park, Red Clay Creek, White Clay Creek State Park, Brandywine Valley, Montchannin, Valley Garden Park, etc., etc.? Have you never heard of these classic parks that would be welcomed in any state? These parks give great pleasure to thousands for free. How come you have never heard of them?

Delaware beaches do not compare to those of Florida, but like Florida's, most are free (with a few exceptions). Yes, you have to pay for a few of the beach parks in the southern part of the state (some, not most), but you also have to pay to enter Pinellas' Fort De Soto Park or Florida's Honeymoon Island State Park — twice, if you also want to go to Caladesi Island.

Lastly, I don't know how your finances are arranged, but I pay for trash pickup services in Florida, as do most residents one way or another.

Florida is my adopted home and I love it here, but Delaware is certainly not the way you portray it.

Steven P. Harrison, Clearwater

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North Pinellas letters: Sheriff gets kudos for crisis training 04/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:38am]
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