Police Crisis Team Trains at Peppers Estate in Montecito

Eliza Augustsson works with the Santa Barbara Police Department's Crisis and Negotiation Team at the Peppers Estate in Montecito.

A senior resident and an employee of the Peppers Day Center participated in the training. “The interactive spectacle was better than live theater for the seniors at the Day Center and excellent real world training for the police,” said Peppers owner David Sullins.

The training exercise started when crisis team members were dispatched to the Peppers to deal with a senior man who had barricaded himself. The man has onset dementia and was confused and scared living in his new environment. He threatened to harm himself if he was not taken home to familiar surroundings.

A command center was set up, a cell phone connection was established and the training was under way. Most of the crisis team was unaware of where the event would lead as only Officer Keld Hove had mapped out the various obstacles beforehand.

The first twist was that the senior was Swedish speaking only. They discovered the language origin and began dealing with negotiations in a language unfamiliar to them.

Peppers employee Elizabeth Sullins was recruited to translate over the command post phone consoles. Elizabeth and senior Roland Augustsson, who had been instructed to be stubborn and non-cooperative, soon began to converse.

At least 10 phone calls were made and a record of each step was written on large charts in fascinating detail.

Roland told police he had scissors to defend himself if officers tried to enter his locked room. He also said he was “taking pills like crazy.”

At one point, he said he could not come out because the door was locked. The crisis team members dealt with each new twist and many of the protocols in their training were put to the test.

The observing seniors at the Day Center were engrossed and thrilled with the display. Roland eventually emerged peacefully to a round of applause.

“We were so happy to host the police for this training exercise, and no movie show could ever match the drama, comedy and suspense in the day center today,” David Sullins said. “But I have to say, if these strapping young officers had simply walked in, turned around and left, the ladies would have been thrilled. To see them in action and pacing through actual training was quite a show.”

Hove and the crisis team said thanks for the opportunity to use the Peppers Day Center. The scenario was very real world for them and the training was highly valuable, they said. “The obstacles of the language barrier, the confused and pretending ‘over-medicated’ senior put the team members’ creativity and troubleshooting abilities to the test,” Sullins said.

As officers were packing up the command post to return to the police station, Hove said “We greatly appreciate the opportunity offered to us by Peppers and loved spending a quality day with the Santa Barbara seniors at the day center.”


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