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Philadelphia Police Get Special Training On Encountering Those With Mental Illness

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Philadelphia police officers receive special training to learn how to manage the people they encounter who have mental illness. KYW's Michelle Durham participated in the training at the Philadelphia Police Academy.

Officers had to put headphones on and listen to the constant sound of voices, sometimes with terrible things being said, all while performing a series of tasks that require concentration.

You can hear the confusion in the officer's voices as they try to tackle tasks like going to the doctor's office or playing memory games, while listening to a headset with vicious voices in their ears.

Christine Vanello is the Policy and Criminal Court Coordinator for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and she helped train the officers. "This is a mentally fatiguing exercise and the funny thing is that it is only 45 minutes. The people we deal with go through this every day," Vanello said.

Jim, a 16th District Police Officer, said he learned a lot from listening to the voices. "If I had to do this for more than an hour, I could see how it would be stressful," Jim said.

Barbara, a 15th District police officer, offers her opinion. "It's enjoyable because I'm finally able to see where some of the people I'm dealing with are coming from. It's going to help a lot once I get back out there," Barbara said.

Reported by: Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio

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