LOCAL NEWS

South Jordan officer trained in mental health thinks new bill will make a difference

Apr 25, 2018, 9:23 PM | Updated: Apr 26, 2018, 11:21 am

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – There are parts of the job police officers love.

Giving stickers to children is one of them.

“It’s exciting to me. It’s very exciting,” said Sgt. Josh Whatcott, as three children and their mother approached him at a South Jordan park Wednesday afternoon.

Helping people is why Whatcott got into the job.

However, in the past few years, he has really started helping people on a deeper level.

Especially when it comes to mental illness.

“Mental health doesn’t define these people. Underneath that, there’s really a human. There’s really a person with feelings just like you and I that has emotions, that is happy and sad, that’s human,” Whatcott said.

Any police officer will tell you they deal with people suffering from some type of mental illness almost every day.

Often, though, they’re not properly trained to handle those types of calls.

“We try and do our best and we de-escalate. We potentially pink slip somebody, but we’re not really the resource to help those people with mental illnesses,” Whatcott said.

However, Whatcott is trained.

He’s close to earning his master’s degree in social work to help those with mental illness.

It’s made a difference in those types of calls he responds to.

In fact, he keeps in touch with a person who was suffering from mental illness, who was a kind of nuisance and problem for her neighborhood three years ago.

She was really creating a lot of problems for the community, our officers were continually having to respond, so I took it upon myself as to what can we really do to avoid these responses, how can we appease the community, and how can we get her some help,” he said. “Now she’s great today. I had coffee with her this morning and she’s just a completely different person. She’s thrilled to be feeling good and feeling happy and not feeling the way that she felt.”

It’s why he’s excited for a new bill Governor Gary Herbert signed Tuesday.

The bill deals with sending those trained in mental health as first responders, instead of just police officer, for those types of calls involving someone having a mental health crisis.

“It’s a great program, and I’m excited it’s been signed in and I think we’re going to do some good things with it,” said Whatcott. “It’s a community issue, and that’s why I’m so happy about this bill that’s been passed because it’s a community effort. You can donate money and donate your tax returns, and there is so many things you can do to help fund this program to make it successful for all these people.”

Whatcott says, 10 years ago, the person he helped might have been sent to jail because there weren’t any other easily accessible options.

“Jail isn’t the answer. That just exacerbates everything. We have to get them to where they’re contributing to society instead of continuing to be a problem or a nuisance as people would think,” he said. “I’m so excited for something this big. I think it’s just the start of something that’s going to be great.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Karah Brackin

Father, daughter reunited after finding each other through DNA testing

Thirty some years ago in Utah, the decision to put a baby girl up for adoption was made. Since then, a dad’s search to find his daughter never stopped. Neither did hers.
11 hours ago
...
Ashley Moser

Local businesses, city gear up to host 100,000 visitors during NBA All-Star weekend

Local businesses are gearing up for big crowds for the NBA All-Star Game in two weeks.
11 hours ago
...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: How do you know if your donation really gets to those who need it?

Fundraising runs rampant on social media, but how do you know if your donation really gets to those who need it?
11 hours ago
(UDOT)...
Josh Ellis

Elk herd returns to SLC’s Foothill Drive; one hit in crash overnight

UDOT and the Utah DWR are urging drivers to be on alert as a herd of elk returned to roads near the mouth of Parleys Canyon Friday morning.
11 hours ago
...
Shelby Lofton

Steal. Sell. Repeat. Wave of construction thefts leaves Utah buyers stuck paying the price

They thought it was a steal. Turns out, they got scammed. The law caught up to a man who stole construction equipment and sold it to unwitting Utahns, but his victims say they’re the ones paying for his crimes.
1 day ago
Unified Police Department squad vehicle. (KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Woman in custody after crashing into 3 civilian cars and 3 police cars in Midvale chase

A police pursuit resulted in damages to three Unified Police Department cars and three civilian cars Thursday night.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
South Jordan officer trained in mental health thinks new bill will make a difference