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April 29, 2024

The Intersection of Deflection, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Substance Use Disorders Podcast Series, Episode 2: Supporting Productive Communication: Tips for First Responders to Identify Brain Injury and Deflecting Arrest

In this podcast series, the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) team explores the interconnectivity between brain injury, behavioral health, law enforcement, and the justice system. Through the episodes, the team interviews experts and discusses the prevalence, impacts, and best practices for law enforcement to engage in successful interactions with those living with brain injury and behavioral health conditions. Specific topics covered include:

  • Prevalence of brain injury in behavioral health and the justice system
  • Supporting productive communication between first responders and individuals with lived experience of brain injury
  • Best practices for first responders and successful collaborations to support those at this intersection

Subject-matter experts and guest speakers include Dr. Kim Gorgens (University of Denver), Dr. Ivory Tubbs (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education), Dr. Charles Smith (former Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Region 8 Administrator), Corporal Jennifer Speith (Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Mental Health Agency), Anastasia Edmunston (Maryland Behavioral Health Administration), Cheryl Kempf (individual with lived experience), The Honorable Scott Cooper (Collaborative Courts, Orange County, California), Caitlin Synovec (National Health Care for the Homeless Council), Angela Klinenberger (individual with lived experience), Dr. Jaclyn Caccese (Ohio State University), Dr. Patricia Kay Reyna (researcher for family and caregiver interventions), and Deputy Josh Walters (Franklin County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office).

Episode 2: Supporting Productive Communication: Tips for First Responders to Identify Brain Injury and Deflecting Arrest

This episode, the second in a four-part series, will focus on sharing tips for first responders to identify potential brain injuries and support productive communication to deflect arrests or recidivism in the system. Joined by Corporal Jennifer Speith, who spent 20 years at the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Police Department; Anastasia Edmonston, trainer and consultant for the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA); and Cheryl Kempf, an individual with lived experience with a brain injury, we will discuss their experiences working, training, and engaging with first responders. We will explore why it is important for first responders to be able to recognize potential brain injuries (or histories of brain injury) and the types of positive communication that can support these individuals.

Speakers’ Full Biographies 

  • Corporal Jennifer Spieth
    • Originally from South Florida, Corporal Jennifer Spieth earned a bachelor of arts degree in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland and a master of science degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She retired from the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Police Department after a 20-year career. During her last 9 years on the police department, Corporal Spieth worked on the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), which serves people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. She is now the CIT training coordinator for the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency, which trains police officers across the metropolitan Maryland/Washington, D.C., area.
  • Anastasia Edmonston
    • Anastasia Edmonston, MS, CRC, is a consultant with the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), providing training and consulting on the topics of brain injury and behavioral health, criminal justice and public safety, and person-centered practices through a brain injury-informed lens. Ms. Edmonston has worked in the field of rehabilitation services with individuals impacted by brain injury for over 30 years in both inpatient and outpatient services as a case manager, program coordinator, advocate, and vocational rehabilitation counselor. She currently serves as the project coordinator for the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration’s Federal Traumatic Brain Injury Partner Grant. In this capacity, she provides coordination of project initiatives, including training on the topics of brain injury, person-centered thinking and planning to professionals who work in the fields of aging, mental health and addiction (with a focus on the link between addiction and brain injury), and law enforcement. Ms. Edmonston obtained her master of science degree in rehabilitation counseling from Boston University and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She earned a post-graduate certificate in instructional systems development from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2014.
  • Cheryl Kempf
    • Cheryl Kempf is an acquired brain injury (ABI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) survivor from Austin, Texas. She is an advocate and speaker for brain injury legislation and was a major catalyst in passing Texas HB 13/38, 84th Regular Session, in 2015 and HR 29/92, 117th Congressional Session, in 2020—the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act. She advocated in both the Texas and national capitals, legislator by legislator at the start, speaking from her own experience and recovery to illustrate the need for this protection of brain injury survivors. Her testimony includes speaking to both the Texas Legislative Committee on Emerging Issues in Law Enforcement and the Congressional Legislative Briefing held as part of Brain Injury Day on Capitol Hill in 2020. Ms. Kempf received the 2016 Brain Injury Alliance of Texas’ Tom Dean Humanitarian Award and the 2022 National Association of State Head Injury Administrators’ (NASHIA) William A. B. Ditto Excellence in Public Service Award for her work.

Resources and Links

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