Public safety personnel could receive training to prepare themselves for handling veterans in crisis.
Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) sponsors HF1241 that would provide a $200,000 grant for the 2014-2015 biennium to the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute for a Minnesota-specific training course. The funding would come from the Department of Public Safety.
The House State Government Finance and Veterans Affairs Committee approved the bill and referred it to the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. The companion, SF1079, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.
Rep. Tim O‘Driscoll (R-Sartell) said there is an outstanding need for the training.
“It will be money that will be well spent in every one of our communities across the state of Minnesota,” he said.
According to a handout from the Minnesota-based nonprofit, one course goal would be to provide public safety personnel with an ability to recognize and understand the various types of mental illness and behavioral disorders of returning veterans.
While there’s a high demand for the training in the state, Wayne Shellum, director of the institute, said the budgets and training funds at sheriff’s offices and police departments are thin. With federal funding, the institute has already been providing training across the country.
Unlike previous training courses, Shellum (pictured above; photo by Paul Battaglia) said the Minnesota course would include how to identify veteran’s resources. County veteran service officers and local family assistance centers will also be invited to the training to increase awareness of available resources, he said.
“Resources and the availability of resources for law enforcement officers and their knowledge of veteran issues quite frankly is not very strong,” he said.
The training would also address the needs of female veterans, which could require training personnel that deal with sexual assault, according to Trista Matascastillo, chair of the Minnesota Women Veterans Initiative Working Group.