Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Police call it the Crisis Intervention Team.

I think will be the main and only story of today as this is an important issue to all of us concerned with the Mental Health Issues in and around our county as well as around our nation:

COLUMBIA - City police announced a new specialized training program for patrol officers aimed at helping those with mental illness or substance abuse problems.

Police call it the Crisis Intervention Team. This extension of the street patrol involves judges, mental health care facilities, and advocacy groups. At the most basic level, police officers who have volunteered for this extra training are the ones dispatchers will send to calls involving someone with a mental illness or substance abuse problem.

While police and mental health experts are together now, they hope to make it a more common teaming.

"To have officers have a better understanding of what someone in substance abuse crisis or mental health, with a mental illness in crisis what they're going through, it gives you more insight," said officer Brian Grove of the Columbia Police Department.

Through the team and training, the goal is to give patrol officers a different perspective to use like a tool on their duty belt.

"First it starts with the people who initially deal with them, the first responder which is the police officers, and then they're the ones who can help decide what resources that they can help the people with," said Sgt. Brian Wilson of the Lee's Summit Police Department.

An identity pin will help others recognize these specially trained officers.

"So if we get this worked out and streamlined there are resources out there for officers to plug these folks into, where as before maybe officers wouldn't have known that," said Grove.

Columbia police said the goal is to get twenty percent of patrol officers through the training. This is a team concept, and Columbia police will work with Boone County and MUPD on joint training.

It is a 40-hour program and it covers everything from what a mental illness is, to hospital procedures, to how to communicate with someone in crisis.

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