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February 15, 2013

Sheriff’s department begins Alzheimer’s training

Bill on law enforcement preparation heads to state Senate for approval.

LOGANSPORT — In preparation for the passage of a bill currently headed to the Indiana statehouse, the Cass County Sheriff’s Department has begun its Alzheimer’s training.

All of the department’s officers are undergoing a six-hour training, administered by Senior Helpers, on how to interact with Alzheimer’s patients during police business. The training comes as a bill requiring six hours of training on Alzheimer’s disease for law enforcement was approved unanimously by the Indiana House and makes it way to the Senate.

State Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, introduced the bill in January after a Peru police officer Tasered a 64-year-old nursing home resident with Alzheimer’s. The patient was reportedly combative.

Chief Deputy Jill Rife with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department said they were contacted by Senior Helpers, an in-home senior care agency, and asked if they would be interested in Alzheimer’s training.

“I thought it was a good idea for the training,” Rife said.

Rife explained that the officers currently undergo training on autism, mental illness, addictive disorders, mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

But, she said she wanted officers to know how to interact with Alzheimer’s patients, especially after the Peru incident.

“They went through some scenarios and actually showed and taught them how to approach someone with Alzheimer’s,” Rife said.

Dave Foreman, owner and director of Senior Helpers, said they began to offer law enforcement agencies training, which they typically give to caregivers, because of what happened in Peru.

“That’s what led me to want to get with these law enforcement officers,” Foreman said.

Foreman added that he has an article about the Tasering on his bulletin board.

He said the training encompasses the different stages of Alzheimer’s and what type of body language and speech pattern would be most effective with that person. For example, Foreman said they teach officers about not invading the space of the person they’re talking with and being aware of the person’s narrowed vision.

“It can help tremendously,” Foreman said.

He added that he thinks the legislation is a good step.

“I think it’s a great legislation and that our training fits perfectly into that,” Foreman said.

This training will fulfill the department’s requirements for 2013, Rife said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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