The Feasibility of an E-Learning Program to Improve First Line Law Enforcement Responders Recognition of Emotionally Disturbed Persons


Introduction: With deinstitutionalization, there are higher demands placed on police in dealing with “emotionally disturbed persons or EDPs” (e.g., those in an agitated state due to any or several of the following reasons: pre-existing mental health disorder; emerging mental health disorder; extreme situational stress; substance abuse). The need for training of first responders in the management of EDPs and/or those suffering from mental illness is well documented in the literature. We are evaluating the feasibility of an e-learning course which trains first responders to recognize emotionally disturbed persons and adopt effective strategies to deescalate a crisis situation. Methods: Mental health experts and senior law enforcement personnel collaborated to pilot a program designed to improve law enforcement officers’ skills in recognizing, categorizing and managing EDPs, “Recognition of Emotionally Disturbed Persons”. Following a successful training pilot Dalhousie University Department of Psychiatry entered into a partnership with Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN)—Canada’s leading provider of online training solutions for police officers—in order to provide a 2-hour online program available across Canada and internationally, currently known as Recognition of Emotionally Disturbed Persons (REDP) e-learning course. Results: The authors will discuss the feasibility of an on-line learning program, the benefits and challenges learners have faced over the 4-year period since its inception. Attendees’ satisfaction levels regarding the relevance and utility of this learning model was high. The REDP-e-learning course has proven to be a practical and useful approach for first responders dealing with emotionally disturbed persons. This model is a viable and cost-effective option especially in public service organizations where time efficiencies and reducing budgets are a priority. Organizations developing training programs for such target audiences need to take these factors into account in order to ensure long term sustainability.

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Lauria-Horner, B. , Kelln, B. and Theriault, S. (2014) The Feasibility of an E-Learning Program to Improve First Line Law Enforcement Responders Recognition of Emotionally Disturbed Persons. Open Access Library Journal, 1, 1-8. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1100470.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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