Ames Police trained in dealing with mental health calls, active shooters


Courtesy of Upsplash

The Ames Police Department release activity reports monthly.

The Ames Police Department’s activity report for the month of July highlighted training for officers and community engagement.

The report, released monthly on the city of Ames website, lists training sessions and community events the police participated in, arrests made, any instance of force being used and graphs showing breakdowns of all activity. Police reported a level of activity that is to be expected of a summer month.

One officer completed a session for mental health training, and all officers attended a session for active shooter situations, in addition to annual physical fitness testing. Officer Dan Walters said officers went to a local school that was not in session and used the facilities to train for active shooter situations. He also said the state requires some mental health training, but the Ames department does more training on top of that.

“Clearly, with things that are going on in society right now [active shooter and mental health training sessions] are important ones for us,” said Walters.

In July, there were five instances where force was used by an officer. One of those was in response to a man threatening self-harm.

Since the start of 2022, there have been six instances where the Ames police responded to a call for mental health reasons, and force was used. In July of 2021, force was used against an 11-year-old boy who was experiencing mental health issues and was considered harmful to others, as well as against a 59-year-old woman who was attempting to self-harm.

The report stated the force that was used against the boy was “grabbed arms and held for handcuffing,” according to the July 2021 report. For the woman, a taser was used to prevent the woman from harming herself, according to the report.

Officers attended community events such as the Fourth of July parade and Georges Niang’s Boys and Girls Club golf tournament. Walters said the police department and the Boys and Girls Club have a close relationship, and they attend many of their events.

“It’s always important for us, especially in a community like this where we have new students coming in every year, it’s important for us to get out and meet our community, get involved in our community,” Walters said.

According to Walters, this July was pretty typical for a summer month in Ames. There were no statistics or trends that stood out to him. However, compared to in-school months, Walters said that police activity does not decrease as much as one might expect.

“We see a large percent of our population that isn’t here so that can cause some types of calls for service to go down but, you know, we see some other types of calls for service increase,” Walters said. “It’s warmer weather, people are out and about more, the kids are out of school, and so that can make up for some of those students that have left the city to go back home.”

Walters said the purpose of the monthly activity reports is to be transparent with the community.

“We’re just trying to be very clear and candid with the students, making them aware of what’s going on in their city,” he said. “These are available every month, we’ll publish these, and they’re welcome to take a look and reach out to us if they have any questions.”