Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Special Emergency Response Team/Church World Services and refugees

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Jul 4, 2017 6:00 AM


On the Wednesday, July 5th edition of WITF's Smart Talk: 

Regional law enforcement agencies around the country use Special Emergency Response Teams, or SERTS.  Usually inter-agency collaborative efforts, SERT members are specially trained to de-escalate critical incidents involving "barricaded gunmen, hostage situations, kidnappings and high-risk warrant services."

SERT Officers are the elite of local law enforcement - specially trained in both tactical operations and crisis negotiation.  These teams are taught how to engage effectively with mentally ill civilians caught up in crisis situations, resulting in "in the safest and most-tactical manner possible."

Officer Gail Sizer of the East Cocalico Police Department has been on the Lancaster County SERT squad since 2009.  She knows that a hammer isn't always the appropriate tool in the box to fix problems.  "Sometimes they scream at you and call you every name in the book. They'll do it 10 times. The 11th time, maybe, they calm down and talk," says Sizer.  "I'll give them the respect and dignity and the chance to comply with police commands on their own. I'll show them respect by being polite and compassionate."

On Wednesday's edition of WITF's Smart Talk, we look at the application of Special Emergency Response Teams in the region, how they are used to address situations involving mental illness and the training that goes into becoming a team member and the benefits to public safety of using these teams.

Teri Miller-Landon is the Division Director of Lancaster County's Adult Probation and Parole Department and a committee member of the county's Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), she will join CIT team member Lisa Gehr and Officer Sizer to discuss the training and use of SERT teams in the area.

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Gail Sizer, Terri Miller-Landon & Lisa Gehr

Also on the program is Sheila Mastropietro, Director of Church World Services and of Lancaster's Immigrant and Refugee Program.  Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear legal arguments for and against President Donald Trump's ban on travelers and refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries.  The high-court decision reinstates the presidential order until the court hears the case. 

Mastropietro discusses restrictions refugees face as part of President Donald Trump's refugee and travel ban. 

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Sheila Mastropietro, Church World Services

Correction: A caller to Wednesday's Smart Talk program asked about refugees receiving Social Security benefits and was told that only American citizens can receive SSI.  That isn't accurate.   According to the Social Security Administration, noncitizens who are "lawfully in the United States and meet all eligibility requirements" can get benefits. That includes not only those admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act, but also those who qualify under provisions for family unity and for immediate relatives to live within the U.S. as well.

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