Alzheimer’s Association to Train Loveland Police Department Officers on How to Recognize Dementia
The Alzheimer's Association will train Loveland Police Department (LPD) officers on how to recognize dementia patients following the release of body camera footage from Karen Garner's 2020 arrest.
The LPD is currently facing a federal civil rights lawsuit over the incident, in which an officer reportedly injured 73-year-old Garner, who has dementia, after she forgot to pay for $14 worth of items at a local Walmart.
The department has since placed the arresting officer on administrative leave, while an assisting officer and an on-scene supervisor have been reassigned to administrative duties.
Now, the Alzheimer's Association hopes their training will help local law enforcement and first responders understand how to interact with dementia patients properly in the future.
"Scenarios like [Garner's] aren't uncommon or unusual. It is likely for first responders to interact with community members who have dementia," said Kelly Osthoff, Senior Director of Programs for the Alzheimer's Association's Colorado Chapter, in our "Tuned In to NoCo" interview. "We reached out to the Loveland Police Department to offer support, education, information so that it doesn't happen again."
The training covers an array of topics, from how to identify a community member struggling with dementia to how to respond to them calmly and kindly — something Osthoff noted was lacking in Garner's situation.
"Karen was clearly confused and disoriented, and unfortunately, the officers continued to escalate the situation and that didn't help the interaction," she said. "We need to equip our first responders with the tips and tools to know how to respond."
Osthoff has seen the training work successfully in other departments, and she believes it will be fruitful for both the LPD and the Loveland community.
Learn more about the Alzheimer's Association's offer to assist the LPD by listening to the full "Tuned In to NoCo" interview with Kelly Osthoff below.
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