For his work calming a potential hazardous situation earlier this year, James Fickling, an investigator with the Duke University Police Department, has been named the Duke Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year.
Fickling, who's worked with Duke Police for two years, received the award as recognition for properly handing a situation at the Duke Eye Center in April when a man was making verbal threats to a family member. In response, Fickling spent a little over two hours speaking with the individual and family members. It appeared that medication had caused the man to exhibit aggressive behavior.
"Law enforcement frequently interacts with those that require special assistance and officers like James Fickling exemplify the best attributes of helping others by spending extra time to talk, listen, and understand," said John Dailey, chief of Duke Police. "He did a terrific job of getting the individual connected to resources which was best for a long term solution."
To be eligible for the award, Fickling completed 40 hours of training with local mental health, consumer advocacy and law enforcement agencies. He was then nominated for the award by Duke Police Capt. Michael Linton, who highlighted Fickling's efforts at the Eye Care Center.
"Due to his outstanding investigatory skills and utilization of the knowledge gained during crisis intervention training, Investigator Fickling assured that this patient received the proper medical care that was needed," Linton wrote in his nomination.
The crisis training program and award are coordinated by Alliance Behavioral Healthcare and the Durham County National Alliance on Mental Illness, which presents awards to one participant from each law enforcement agency that takes part in the program. Duke was one of five agencies to present an Officer of the Year award.
Fickling said the most beneficial part of receiving instruction through the training program was getting to hear presentations from Durham residents who deal with mental illnesses like hallucinations, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
"Hearing their testimony of their illness let me better understand how to help someone in need," said Fickling, who spent 19 years working for South Carolina's Charleston County Sheriff's Office before coming to Duke. "Hearing their stories helped show me how to best build a rapport with someone in a crisis situation."
However, Ficking said that receiving the Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year award isn't only reflective of his abilities but those around him.
"There's always a lot of components to each situation and there was a great team effort in April," Fickling said. "With threat assessments, you have to reach out to different agencies at Duke and Durham, so there's a whole army of folks behind you to collaborate and help you."