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Greenville Police certified dementia friendly

The Greenville Police Department was certified as a dementia-friendly department after a two day, two-hour training session with the South-Central Alabama Development Commission (SCADC).

The training, which concluded on Wednesday, July 14, consisted of members of the Greenville Police Department being educated on how dementia can develop, how the symptoms of dementia can manifest, and how to approach and respond to those who have dementia appropriately.

“Things can get off track quickly when you don’t know how to respond to situations that involve people who have dementia properly,” said Greenville Police Chief Justin Lovvorn. “Officers are taught to control a situation, but not all situations require you to use physical force. One of the things we try to do is get the officers’ training to understand things outside our normal training. When the topic of dementia training came up, I authorized Captain Disney to get things set up, and thankfully the guys got a lot out of it once the training started.”

For a department to be certified dementia-friendly, 85 percent of officers must go through the training. According to Chief Lovvorn, nearly every Greenville police officer participated in the training.

“We got just about everyone through the training in the two days we were doing it,” said Chief Lovvorn.

SCADC Program Coordinator Mary Wedgeworth oversaw the direction of the training over those two days.

According to Wedgeworth, the Area Agency on Aging created the program to give officers the tools they need to better engage with those that struggle with dementia.

“Many of these officers don’t encounter people with dementia,” Wedgeworth said. “And a lot of times dementia patients will exhibit symptoms like those under the influence of alcohol. We decided to embrace the community members who have dementia and inform people on what these people are experiencing.”

Besides local law enforcement, Wedgeworth stressed how important it is for the public to be informed about dementia.

“If you have a loved one who has dementia, you may not feel comfortable bringing them out into the public for fear of how people will react,” Wedgeworth said. “However, if the community can learn to embrace these people and how to treat them appropriately, these families can bring their loved ones back into the public without worry. They can be a vital part of society and go out and enjoy life again.”

After completing their training, the Greenville Police Department was presented with a certificate of completion to hang on their walls. Additionally, Greenville police vehicles will soon be outfitted with a sticker that informs residents that the officers of that vehicle are dementia certified.