Deputies, training credited with saving life

Ozaukee County officers who were taught how to deal with people experiencing mental health crises honored for helping suicidal woman

OZAUKEE COUNTY SHERIFF Jim Johnson (left) recently presented awards to (from left) Sgt. Brad Arndt, Deputy Joseph Tracy and Nicole Prohuska, a licensed crisis worker with Ozaukee County Human Services for their work in calming a woman who was threatening to commit suicide. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Using skills they honed in a new training program, an Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office sergeant and deputy this summer saved a Town of Grafton woman from committing suicide.

On Sept. 6, they were recognized for their efforts by Sheriff Jim Johnson with a ceremony at the county Justice Center.

On the night of June 22, Sgt. Brad Arndt and Deputy Joseph Tracy were called to a Town of Grafton home where a mother was struggling to control her distraught adult daughter, who was threatening to commit suicide.

Arndt spoke to the mother and Tracy spoke with the daughter, attempting to build a rapport with both women and calm the situation.

Arndt also called in Nicole Prohuska, a licensed crisis worker with Ozaukee County Human Services.

According to a press release, when Prohuska arrived, “she observed an environment of safety and compassion” and that Tracy “had established a level of encouragement and support and sensitivity” she had not seen before.

On Friday, Johnson presented Arndt and Tracy with a Gold Coin of Excellence and Prohuska a Coin of Appreciation.

“The actions of the deputies are in keeping with the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office’s core values of loyalty, duty, honor and integrity,” Johnson said.

Arndt and Tracy are graduates of Crisis Intervention Team training, a program that originated in the 1980s and came to Ozaukee County about five years ago, promoted by the Ozaukee County chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Johnson has made the course mandatory for all personnel in his department. Members of fire departments, police departments and hospital emergency rooms also are undergoing the training.

With more than 60% of all Ozaukee County jail inmates suffering from a mental illness, the ongoing opioid crisis and veterans and others who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s increasingly important for first responders to know how to appropriately deal with crisis situations, officials say.

“The training provides our deputies the tools to help calm citizens in mental health crisis,” Johnson said. “The program helps the officers better understand and connect with persons in crisis and helps the deputies de-escalate a situation, using a compassionate approach and follow-through considerations.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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