Dozens of law enforcement personnel from several agencies in Bexar County underwent extensive training this week, all of it centered around mental health.

"It's about 40 hours worth of training, where we teach them both how to deal with mental health crisis situations and what resources are available to them to help them do that," said Officer Ernest Stevens, an SAPD mental health unit member and instructor of this training.

Officers heard from experts in the mental health field, received laminated flash cards filled with information on medications, and participated in role-playing situations designed to simulate real-world experiences.

"Each room you go into has a different scenario going on," said Stevens, ranging from confronting a suicidal elderly person to speaking with someone who hears voices.

"We deal with these things constantly in the street," said Sgt. Efrain Gonzalez, a shift supervisor on the west side.

He said his officers regularly go on mental health calls, often more than once during a shift.

"So it's really important my guys know how to react in those situations," said Gonzalez.

Part of the training is also to keep people out of jail.

"Sometimes a person is just going through an crisis, and rather than just put them in jail, we should find other ways to help them," said Stevens.

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