SDPD Needs Volunteers for Crisis Intervention Program - NBC 7 San Diego

SDPD Needs Volunteers for Crisis Intervention Program



    SDPD Crisis Interventionists

    At police investigations involving deaths, we see officers working the crime scene. What we don't often see, are the volunteers, who play a significant part in the initial response. NBC 7's May Tjoa explains. (Published Sunday, May 19, 2019)

    Whenever a death is investigated, police officers can be seen at the crime scenes, while volunteers behind the investigation usually remain unnoticed; however, they play a significant part in the initial response.

    Crisis interventionists and on-call volunteers with the San Diego Police Department were among the many who gathered at a community vigil one day after a deadly shooting took place at a Poway synagogue.

    Their presence is meant to bring calm and offer resources.

    "We walked around through the crowd, and they would approach us, ask us questions," said Jackie Vance, SDPD crisis interventionist. "There were a lot of people who wanted to just talk."

    Crisis interventionists allow police officers to focus on potential threats and on preserving evidence.

    "If we can get help right away, where you have a person who can relate to the person going through the trauma and has the patience to talk to them and get better information out, then ultimately the better information that we get, the quicker the problems will resolve," said SDPD Acting Lieutenant Cesar Jimenez.

    In 2008, when a military jet crashed into a University City neighborhood, killing a woman, her two daughters and her mother, crisis interventionists stayed with the grieving father at the police station.

    They also helped out in 2017, after someone opened gunfire on people gathered for a birthday party at a University City apartment complex.

    "I was assigned to the family of the shooter. I spent time helping them process what was going on -- how they would communicate with the community," said Vance.

    And it was SDPD crisis interventionists who helped Karen Jongeward when her son died by suicide.

    "This stranger came to our house on the worst day of our lives and shared of herself and helped us," Jongeward said. "It was amazing that someone would do that. "

    Inspired by that kindness, Jongeward herself became that person called in to offer support and has volunteered as a crisis interventionist for more than 12 years.

    SDPD said it needs additional crisis interventionists to help serve throughout the city.

    "If people are looking to volunteer and give some of their time, being a crisis interventionist provides a lot of purpose and a lot of meaning," said Jimenez. "You're there with people during some of their hardest times, and I think knowing that you can be a resource to them -- be a kind person there at this very traumatic time, it's a great use of a person's time."

    Volunteers go through 100 hours of police training. The position is open to anymore over 21 who passes a background check.

    SDPD is holding a new training academy for crisis interventionists, beginning June 1.