OUL Theatre Students Act Out Crisis Situations To Help Local Law Enforcement

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Last week, students from the Ohio University Lancaster Theatre program helped community law enforcement officials prepare for crisis situations. 

The students used their acting skills to depict crisis scenarios during Fairfield County’s Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), put on by the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board (ADAMH).

“The situations varied,” said OUL Theatre student Mackenzie Jenkins. “In one situation, I actually played a suicidal teenager who was sitting in the library. In another situation, I was a 64-year old dementia patient.”

Jenkins was one of seven OUL Theatre students who volunteered to help with the training. The students came in during the last day of the week-long training to help law enforcement officials apply what they had learned to live situations.

Each officer was “dispatched” to a situation which the students acted out. The officers had to approach the scene and de-escalate the situation.

While the students were provided the role-play scenarios in advance and had an opportunity to work through the scenes, the officers did not know what to expect.

“We were given a packet full of scenarios to act out,” said Jenkins. “The packet contained background information on what you were supposed to do for that role. It was a lot of role-play and improvisation.”

“The students did an excellent job falling into character and creating a ‘real-life’ scenario to which officers had to assess the situation and take into consideration mental well-being,” said the ADAMH Board’s Jessica Fisher. “After the role playing exercise was completed, each officer thanked each individual student. I do believe they were impressed with the quality and talent of the students. Several officers admitted that they were not looking forward to the role playing exercise, but once it was completed, it was easily one of the best aspects of the training.”

“It’s helping training the officers for what they’re going to be up against in the real world,” said Jenkins. “I’m glad we could help the community in that way.”

Nine officers from several different police departments attended the training.