Bucks Writs - Fall 2020 - 14


By Chris Serpico

The death of Daniel Prude
in Rochester, New York this
past March, and the subsequent

A member of the Bucks County Sheriff's
Department for eight years, Kessler
is a member of Bucks County's Crisis
Intervention Team, which consists of
members of local police departments and
sheriff's deputies in Bucks County who
have received intensive training in developing
skills to more effectively respond to situations
involving the mentally ill.

brouhaha that followed the mentally
ill man's death while in the custody of
the police, shined the national spotlight
on an issue that had long been simmering
beneath the surface throughout the
The Bucks County's Crisis
country: How can law enforcement
Intervention Team members
officers more effectively respond
receive intensive training
to the increasing numbers of
mentally ill individuals with
in developing skills to more
whom they interact?
effectively respond to situations

Initially, Kessler attended and
completed a rigorous forty-hour
course in negotiating skills presented
by the Philadelphia Police Department.
involving the mentally ill.
Following that, he was one of thirty
In August, the Bucks County
law enforcement officers from across
Sheriff's Department instituted
the county who was trained in underits Pathfinder Initiative whereby
standing how to respond to situations
" deputies with appropriate training would be placed into
involving people experiencing mental health crises offered under
courtrooms within the Justice Center where their assistance
the guidance of counselors from Lenape Valley Foundation.
would be most needed. "
With a trained psychologist on the team, the members of
the group are prepared to aid local police when called upon
in a crisis. One seemingly minor but important step Kessler
has made recently was having the Radio Room take note of
those officers on duty who have received Crisis Intervention
Training (CIT), so that in an emergency they can be alerted
to assist local law enforcement.

Under the leadership of Corporal Todd Kessler, the purpose
of the program is to " take new approaches to individuals
who come into the Courthouse in crisis or go into crisis to
allow for the safest possible outcomes. "
A veteran of the Gulf War, Corporal Kessler has struggled
himself with minor PTSD symptoms as a result of which he
became increasingly interested in learning about methods
by which emotionally fraught situations involving people
experiencing mental health issues could be " defused "
safely before a tragedy occurred. His interest was particularly sparked after he watched an HBO documentary
called " Crisis Cops " that told the story of how two San
Antonio policemen changed the dynamics of how officers
in that Texas police department learned to more effectively
respond to issues involving individuals who presented with
mental health challenges.

When I asked him for an example of how the Task Force
has defused a dangerous situation, he recalled an instance
where he was assisting in the service of a PFA order on
an individual when he was advised at the door by the
man's nephew that the person they were looking for was
downstairs in the basement threatening to kill himself with
a knife. Because of his knowledge and training, he and
the officers with him were able to persuade the person in
crisis to put down the knife and come out safely without
harming himself, the officers, or anyone else in the house.


Bucks Writs - Fall 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Bucks Writs - Fall 2020

Bucks Writs - Fall 2020 - 1
Bucks Writs - Fall 2020 - 2
Bucks Writs - Fall 2020 - 3
Bucks Writs - Fall 2020 - 4
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