Police from 5 departments took part in de-escalation training focused on special needs at MATC

MIILWAUKEE -- First responders on Tuesday, May 7 took part in a program at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) where they learned how to de-escalate situations. The program was provided by The Friendship Circle of Wisconsin.

Groups from five departments in the Milwaukee area learned about working with people who have special needs and mental health issues.

They learned about verbal de-escalation, body language and use of personal space, active listening techniques -- and got a better idea of what people with special needs deal with.

"As 911 dispatchers, we take the calls behind the scenes, so we're dealing with these people without being able to facially or visually see what they're saying or what their body language is, so it's important to recognize how to deal with these types of situations and the prepare our first responders when they go to these homes where they're going to encounter people with mental illness," said Liane Scharnott, director of the Bayside Communications Center.

First responders from Mequon, Bayside, Fox Point, River Hills and Glendale all took part in the training.