- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) - A mental health center for children in Staunton has added a security officer following two incidents in which several staff members were injured.

Several patients attacked staff members in a unit at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents during the past two weekends. Several staff member were treated for injuries. No patients were injured, Meghan McGuire, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, told The News Leader (https://bit.ly/1lA90cz ).

Staunton police were called to the center for both incidents and restored control. McGuire said.

On Monday, Western State Hospital began providing a security officer at the children’s center. The security officer will be at the center in the afternoons, evenings and at night.

As of Jan. 30, 44 patients were at the 48-bed center, which has 140 full-time staff positions, the same as five years ago. There are more direct care positions and fewer administrative staff than there were five years ago. Seven positions are vacant, compared to 13 vacancies five years ago, McGuire said.

Staunton police have responded to 12 calls reporting assaults or disorderly conduct over the past three years, including two within the last two weeks, Staunton Police Department spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Stevens told the newspaper.

Police received a total 180 calls between Jan. 1, 2011, and Tuesday, with the remainder involving 911 hangups, citizen requests, missing persons and other issues, Stevens said.

Stevens said the two most recent calls underscore the importance of the Blue Ridge Crisis Intervention Team coalition, a multi-departmental team that features a training program to help officers to defuse tense situations when people are experiencing psychological crises.

“You can control the situation first, but then you say, ‘OK, what happened? What got you to this point?’,” said Stevens, a Crisis Intervention Team trainer who was not among the officers who responded to the calls over the past two weekends. “Most people naturally have that caring ability. “It helps you observe what’s going on and ask questions.”

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Information from: The News Leader, https://www.newsleader.com

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