Making Waves, the Hamline University social justice theatre troupe, has been working with the Saint Paul Police Department to train officers in de-escalation techniques. The students in the troupe researched different psychological disorders and role-played crises that police officers may encounter on a call. The officers would then engage with the actors and discuss the best way to resolve a crisis. The new project has been covered by the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and KARE 11.
“It’s just great to be a part of something that can improve how our society deals with individuals with mental illness,” said Aida Shahghasemi, the troupe’s assistant director, to the Star Tribune.
The Saint Paul Police Department has contracted training with private organizations in the past, but this is the first time they are partnering with Hamline University to create their own training. In addition to role-playing with students in the theatre troupe, officers visit Regions Hospital and talk to mental health professionals. While a group of the Police Department’s recent academy graduates are currently going through training with Making Waves, the goal is for every officer to participate in this training.
You can learn more about the goal and work that Making Waves on the Hamline website. You can watch a news report below, or see the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press stories online.