The Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter to receive specialized training for all its patrol officers.
The training is designed to better equip Santa Barbara officers who respond to calls for service involving people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, and their caregivers by offering a deeper understanding of the disease and providing best practices for how officers may respond in specific situations.
Officers respond to dementia cases often, including calls for service and missing persons reports, in which the individual with dementia is considered at-risk.
“We need to adapt and evolve as an agency,” said Sgt. Stephanie Trujillo. “I believe this training will help us better communicate and interact with members of our community living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as their families.”
The first portion of the training, Approaching Alzheimer’s, was taught by Kathryn Cherkas, Alzheimer’s Association director of programs, over two sessions on June 22-23. The second portion is expected to be held later this year.
“There is an urgent need for this type of training in Santa Barbara,” Cherkas said. “For the thousands of individuals with dementia living at home, and their caregivers, 9-1-1 is almost always their only backup; it’s the first line of defense for so many.
“And due to the unique nature of the disease, the police need to be trained to be aware of what they’re dealing with and what resources are available for support.”
The interactive training sessions also serve as a space for the Alzheimer’s Association to receive feedback from SBPD officers, with the goal to identify new opportunities to best serve the community by partnering and sharing resources.