Judy Fitzgerald Ga. Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Judy Fitzgerald

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is partnering with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) to implement a training aimed at assisting law enforcement in building effective community substance abuse prevention relationships, enhancing conflict de-escalation tactics, identifying symptoms of opioid use and mental health crisis, and administering Narcan, a medication used for the treatment of an opioid emergency.

This training, the “State Opioid Adapted Response (SOAR) for Law Enforcement,” was developed by GPSTC and DBHDD’s State Opioid Response (SOR) team. The SOR is the SAMHSA-funded initiative within DBHDD’s Office of Behavioral Health Prevention and Federal Grants (OBHPFG) tasked with combatting Georgia’s Opioid Crisis.

“The course teaches skills for crisis de-escalation when opioids and/or other drugs are involved, helps officers to recognize signs and symptoms of overdose to watch out for, and offers tips for officers to remain safe while carrying out their duty to protect and serve," said Jill Mays, director of DBHDD/OBHPFG. "We believe this will be a very helpful and popular training. Officers will see that it was created with their safety and their success on the job in mind."

“We hope that this training will go a long way towards training and equipping our officers with an expanded skillset to combat the misuse of substances like opioids, decrease the loss of lives to overdose and reduce the spread of this epidemic across our state," said Brian K. Le, senior coordinator of DBHDD/OBHPFG’s Statewide Opioid Response. "SOAR can help officers provide linkage to care for those in need of treatment so that they may get on the road to recovery."

“GPSTC is glad to partner with DBHDD to provide valuable training to our public safety community to combat the opioid epidemic," said Andy Garner, senior manager of Crisis Intervention Training at GPSTC. "This training is aimed at saving lives and connecting individuals with necessary community resources as a guide to reaching recovery."

DBHDD and GPSTC scheduled an inaugural launch event Sept. 10 for this training in Brookhaven and will showcase several new training videos developed in conjunction with Georgia Public Broadcasting. The event was also to feature speeches from several key dignitaries including Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr, GPSTC Executive Director Chris Wigginton and DBHDD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is the state agency that supports people with mental health needs, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its vision is easy access to high-quality care that leads to a life of recovery and independence for the people it serves.

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