County Executive Marc Molinaro brought his "Think Differently" initiative to the New York State Senate's Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee Wednesday morning.
Molinaro discussed Dutchess' “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative, which encourages fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for residents with special needs. Molinaro also provided insight about Dutchess County’s experience with crisis intervention training for law enforcement as well as Autism Spectrum Disorder training for first responders for legislation the committee was considering.
“In Dutchess County, our community has embraced our ThinkDIFFERENTLY principles and have been extremely supportive of our wide variety of work to ensure we are doing all we can to make our county inclusive and accessible for all,” Molinaro said.
Last week, the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response hosted several dozen first responders for autism training. Participants learned how to identify the characteristics and behavior of a person living on the autism spectrum; how to effectively communicate with someone with autism; how to respond to an emergency involving someone on the spectrum; how to build relationships with the autism community; and how to utilize special tactics, rescue techniques and patient care options in such instances.
Molinaro also discussed Dutchess' initiative in having first responders engage in crisis intervention training. CIT training is designed to help educate police officers on how to effectively interact with individuals in their communities who are in crisis due to behavioral health or developmental disorders, creating a partnership between the law enforcement, advocacy, and mental health communities.
As part of the training, officers participate in role-playing sessions and cover a wide range of mental health-related topics, including communication skills, understanding suicide/suicide intervention, substance abuse/co-occurring disorders, veterans’ mental health issues, and specific mental illnesses/personality disorders.
Currently, 35 percent of law enforcement officers in Dutchess County have received CIT training.