The Gainesville Police Department is likely to get new grant funding mental health and de-escalation training.
The department received just under $35,000 from the state for the same grant last fall. This January the department is applying for about $185,000 and officials are confident it will be approved for the funds through the 2022 Law Enforcement Training Grant Committee.
Chief Jay Parrish presented the application to Gainesville City Council Thursday, Jan. 13, saying he would like to continue training without costing taxpayers additional money. The department conducted an average of 30 hours of de-escalation and mental health training per officer in 2021 on top of other state training requirements, Parrish said. This effort was part of a commitment the department made to the community following protests in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
Multiple council members said they were proud of the emphasis put on additional training.
“You didn’t just make the comment and promise, what you did is you put it to work and had somebody capable of helping you do that,” Mayor Sam Couvillon said.
Lt. Justin Martin, the department’s training director, said the extra money would be used for new training weapons, safety gear and other equipment. Some of the new gear will include materials to build rooms for simulations, dummies for jiu jitsu training and display boards for classrooms.
“We really focused on creating a simulated environment where an officer was faced with stressors and had to make decisions and learn how to manage stress,” Martin said.
The department’s mental health clinicians, who are funded by separate grant money, create curricula for mental health training, Martin said.
The City Council is expected to approve the grant application at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18, and Parrish said it is almost certain the department will receive the funding shortly after council approval.