Mental Health Training for Southern California Authorities Reviewed After Isla Vista Killings

As Santa Barbara authorities answer questions surrounding a welfare check conducted with the Isla Vista gunman before his deadly rampage, other Southern California law enforcement personnel said they receive direct training on how to deal with people who may have mental health issues.

The mental evaluation unit at the Los Angeles Police Department pairs officers with nurses or psychologists to take over mental health-related calls from patrols. These officers are trained to pick up on body language cues and omission of information.

The visits are documented and shared with the Los Angeles County court system.

In Ventura County, preparing officers and deputies to recognize mental health issues has become a normal part of training, said Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Don Aguilar.

About 75 percent of law enforcement in the county is trained in the Crisis Intervention Team Program, he said. Authorities are taught to treat these assessments by having more of a conversation with people rather than interrogating them, Aguilar said.

At least one deputy who has gone through the training is on every patrol shift, Aguilar said.
The preparedness became the norm after a series of shootings in the late 1990s.

To the north of Ventura County, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Sunday that deputies were convinced that Elliot Rodger -- who killed six innocent people and then himself in an attack that had been planned for months -- was not a threat following a welfare check in April.

Family members of Rodger called mental health professionals after growing concerned about his well being.

Authorities were later notified and visited Rodger. Brown said Rodger convinced the deputies that “it was all a misunderstanding.”

It is unclear whether deputies in Santa Barbara County undergo training to deal with people who may have mental health issues.  

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