SC law requires all officers to learn to spot mental illness

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A new law requires every police officer in South Carolina to be trained in recognizing mental illness and de-escalating confrontations with people who are manic, not malicious.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says officers increasingly encounter people with mental health issues and need to be able to “see it for what it is.”

The now-mandatory course will be part of the additional training officers need every three years to be recertified. The training is already standard for the state’s 59 accredited agencies.

But there are nearly 300 law enforcement agencies statewide.

Paton Blough knows firsthand the difference that training makes. The Greenville resident has been arrested six times during psychotic episodes. He now helps educate officers on his “successful arrests” verses violent ones that left him with scars.

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