Razzie and I helped develop two presentations for the Albuquerque Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team training. If you are unfamiliar with CIT, this is a 40 hour training all APD officers take to help them understand folks like me who have a mental health diagnosis, and to train them with the skills to deescalate a situation where they come in contact with a peer in crisis. CIT training is in addition to the Academy training for APD personnel.
The two hour-long courses we developed and help present are “Perspectives in Psychosis and Mania” which we present with Dr. Nils Rosenbaum – APD Psychiatrist – and “Deescalation” which we present with Detective Matthew Tinney. The “Perspectives” course allows officers to understand what it is like to be a peer in crisis, and what they might encounter when called out to assist a peer in crisis. The “Deescalation” course follows up to help officers understand “what works” and “what needs improvement” so both peers and police are safe, and helping officers ensure these types of crisis calls have a positive and productive outcome where peers are directed to psychiatric service and not to incarceration. Our two courses are the wrap-up to the week’s worth of training, and I’ve been told by many officers we’ve trained that it’s the most useful part of the course.
Anecdotally, I’ve run into many of the officers we trained who recognize us from the the CIT gigs, and being me, I grabbed the opportunity to ask this question:
The last time I chatted with an APD officer was about two weeks ago as I was coming out of physical therapy for my knee injury in March (this is another article in the works – it’s got an important mental health peer and the need for broad education component). I asked the officer this one question, and his reply was immediate:
Dude, that so rocks out with its socks out. “Several times already.” Other officers have said “It made my job easier last week” or “It helped me put a human face on you guys.” Sweet. Super sweet.
So the stories we share of our life experiences in “Perspectives” and “Deescalation” are having the exact positive results in our APD culture that we were hoping. That feels……. just excellent. Great. Amazing. I’m chuffed, stoked, and ecstatic. Our collaboration with APD is already helping our community. Dude. This rocks.
And Nils was stoked. And Matt was stoked. And Razzie was stoked. And I was stoked.
The important component of the Stoked Foursome is Nils and Matt. Remember this. They were very happy with the success of “Perspectives” and “Deescalation.” Rightfully so.
Earlier this year, riding high on the swell of field successes and training successes we’ve built, Nils and Matt invited Rasma and I to present an abbreviated version of “Perspectives” and “Deescalation” for Project ECHO.
While driving over to the UNM location for Project ECHO near the Sunport, Razzie asked me “Do you want to play a joke on Matt and Nils? It’s April Fool’s Day.”
She’s a lovely lass. “Of course I do!” says I.
April Fool’s Day. April 1. My most favorite holiday. Of course I want to torment Nils and Matt. Of course I do.
The thing is, we were just about to pull into the parking lot when she made this suggestion, so I had to think very quickly. Not that that’s a difficult thing to do. However, April Fool’s jokes are meant to be elaborate and devious for the most effective execution, and this rapid-shot development was not honorable for the finest holiday ever.
Quickly. What would get at Nils and Matt, what would create a sense of panic, what would throw them off their game? They hadn’t presented CIT training too many times via ECHO (I think), and so they were still building a reputation for themselves with law enforcement around the state, and they were still building a reputation for CIT training most importantly.
What would get at Nils and Matt? What.. what… what…
I asked Razzie to play along, which means “Please don’t start giggling and give away that I’m executing an excellent April Fool’s joke.” Part of rehearsing these things is to get Razzie the practice not to laugh. That’s a dead giveaway that I’m plausibly lying. Balderdash, anyone?
We ran into Nils in the hallway, and he directed us to the conference room (more of a conference closet by size), and I told Nils, “Before we start today, I wanted to talk with you and Matt privately.”
Nils asked, “What’s up?” You know, how many times has Nils heard “What’s up, Doc?” Tangent. Sorry.
I explained it was best if we spoke with Matt and him together.
Nils looked concerned. I have exaggerated this in my mind to this recollection of the event: Nils broke out in a very moist anxiety sweat and his eyes dilated in primal fear and he could barely contain himself from swooning.
When Matt arrived (late), I sat down with Nils, Matt, and Razzie, and in a partially hushed tone said:
“Nils, Matt, something happened this morning that is going to make it very difficult for us to collaborate with APD in the manner we have built together. It’s fairly serious, and it directly affects the peer population.”
Nils: “Oh no. What was it?”
Me: “It’s been all over the news. Didn’t you see it on TV or heard it on the radio yet?”
Nils: “No… what happened?”
Matt: (Texting, barely paying attention, like a teenage girl.)
Me: “Yes, well, it’s really serious and…”
Razzie: (Laughing very hard by now. She has the sweetest, most girlish, 10,000 decibel laugh. It’s darling.).
Me: “What happened is the calendar rolled over to April 1. Happy April Fool’s Day!”
Matt: “What are you guys talking about?”