Three deputies awarded for defusing situations with mentally ill subjects

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CLINTON — DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner recently issued commendation awards to three deputy sheriffs for their exemplary efforts in dealing with the mentally ill.

“Both incidents could have ended in violence, but these deputies used their training and compassion to resolve the conflicts and help people seek treatment peacefully,” said Shofner.

Deputies John Gaffney and Bryson Barnes received a commendation award for actions taken to disarm a suicidal student at Blue Ridge High School on Jan. 8. The two deputies were assisting Farmer City Police and medical staff inside the high school when a student in crisis broke away from providers and grabbed a knife, with intent to hurt themselves. Deputy Gaffney grabbed the armed student, restraining the student so the student could be disarmed. The student was safely transported to a hospital for treatment.

Deputy Joe Krasney was awarded a commendation for actions on Feb. 13. Deputy Krasney and Sergeant Tim Cohenour responded to the emergency room at Warner Health Services in Clinton to assist Clinton police officers in efforts to control an unruly and aggressive mentally ill man. The patient was aggressive enough that officers were preparing to shoot him with a taser for their safety.

Deputy Krasny stepped into the dangerous situation without hesitation. Using his training and calm demeanor, he built a dialog with the mentally ill patient. Deputy Krasny engaged the subject by asking questions, listening, and speaking when necessary.

Deputy Krasny’s demeanor and measured responses calmed the individual and enabled the medical staff to complete an evaluation, allowing the patient to receive treatment.