Frankfort Police Chief Talks Crisis Management

Crises show up in many forms.  Almost every crisis handled by police is unexpected.  Every crisis must have an immediate response by Police.  Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets introduced Frankfort Chief of Police Scott Shoemaker who spoke to Frankfort Rotary Thursday about the various ways the Frankfort Police Department is preparing for the unexpected.

A crisis may show up in several ways and each unexpected event requires a different skill set, training and equipment to respond correctly.

  • Shooting
  • Suicide or Suicide attempt
  • Child injury or any serious personal injury
  • Abuse: domestic or otherwise
  • Large Scale events of all kinds which are sudden and accidental (weather, fire, natural disasters)
  • Any other event with high media exposure (high profile trial cases, etc.)

Shoemaker began his talk by saying not everyone Police have to deal with is criminal.  Mental health and other non-criminal factors must be entered into the equation to properly deal with some crisis situations.  Sometimes trained personnel can best deal with a situation with a conversation, sometimes in plain clothes. Police are often aware of people and situations before they become “front page” news.  These situations can be delt with before they ever make it to “the front page”. 

In a way, the best way to deal with a crisis is often before it becomes one.

Shoemaker said in 1990 mental health hospitals across the State of Indiana closed down and that necessarily shifted the burden to local communities across the entire state.  “If you think Frankfort is the only place with a homeless problem, I can give you a tour of cities and communities all over and you will see we are not alone.”  The homeless problems tend to always be downtown in most every community.  Why? Because “that’s where everything is”.  Shoemaker said the police department works with United Way, school superintendent Matt Rhoda and other community leaders and resources to deal with preparedness and response on a variety of issues.

Even Frankfort’s SWOT Team (Special Weapons and Tactics) has seven officers including Shoemaker trained to mitigate a hostage crisis situation before the SWOT team is given permission to enter the scene.  Trained officers can best respond to many situations without lethal force being necessary.  Once again, the best way to deal with a crisis is often before it becomes one.

The Frankfort Police Department has implemented a confidential Peer Support program to make sure even our Frankfort Police officers have a certified trained system to discuss and address pressures unique to Police Officers who often don’t often talk about feelings.

“People don’t want to tell people not to do something” Shoemaker said.  This reality sometimes places an officer in an uncomfortable position they really don’t care to be in and in reality, is often not police business such as trespassing issues on private property.  Police having to tell people to do something they don’t want to do can make the police job stressful and cause some people to look at police as a negative, but in the end, the police may be the only ones left to do it, even though it may not really be their job.

Frankfort Police are now receiving Virtual Reality training.  This training transports officers to situations so realistic that spotters have to be placed along the perimeter of the virtual scene to make sure trainees do not run into walls or get hurt during the training.

If all goes according to plan the police station will have already moved in July 2023 to its new location in by the water tower on Frankfort’s west side. The current Police Station building will be empty in August 2023 and available for another community use.   Community ideas are being sought for the highest and best use of this building which was a federal building constructed originally as the Frankfort Post Office.  The PIP board (Partners in Progress) is considering hosting a public meeting to gather ideas to maximize the potential of the current Police Station on West Washington Street.   A creative use of the sturdy building would not be a crisis…but perhaps a wonderful opportunity.

Frankfort Police Chief Scott Shoemaker speaks to Frankfort Rotary Club Thursday at noon on the topic of Crisis Management. Scott was introduced by Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets.

 

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