JACKSON, MISS– When a person says they’re going to commit suicide or maybe harm others, it may not always be because that person is violent. It may be that they’re fighting a mental illness.
“Crisis Intervention Team training is a win-win for the community, officer, and the individual involved. The community is safe, the officer is safe, and the individual is safe and getting treatment.”
Brent Hurley with the Mississippi Department of Mental Health says that training for police officers could keep the community safe while finding help for individuals who may be threatening simply because of a mental break. In many cities across the state, a person who is having a mental episode may be booked in the lockup on charges of disturbing the peace because depending on the time, there may not be another outlet available for that person at the time.
Here’s how it works. A city department because CIT certified after completing a 40 hour training course. The course is called the Memphis-model, which was designed by a former police officer originally from Lauderdale County.
After training, that city’s police department can then work with the sheriff’s department to set up a point of entry for a person that may be experiencing a mental episode. For example, if police officer takes a suicidal person into custody, instead of arresting that person and booking them downtown, they can take them to a mental treatment facility. This is a quick process that doesn’t involve police paperwork. The community is secure, the officer avoids a conflict, and the person gets the mental treatment they may need.
And the best things about the training, are that any police department or sheriff’s department in the state can attend the class for free in Meridian.
“And not only that,” says Hurley, “for the next two years we have a grant that allows departments sending officers to get a seven hundred dollar stipend per officer in attendance to help offset the costs of paying someone to cover their patrol.”
Hurley says that this program could spread statewide, if departments would only take advantage of the training. To learn more about the Crisis Intervention Training, contact the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.