Local Police Officers Trained to Help People With Mental Illness

May 9, 2016

Police officers from central and northern Wisconsin recently trained in techniques to handle people who are having a mental health crisis.

Credit pixabay.com

  Tomahawk and Rhinelander Chiefs of Police Al Elvins and Michael Steffes were presenters,along with mental health professionals in what's known as Crisis Intervention Training. The model brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency departments and individuals with mental illness and others to improve responses to people in crisis.

Chief Elvins says funding to help people with mental illness has dropped, and many times law enforcement has the first contact with someone in crisis...

"....it put all those people back out on the streets, or in jails. Jails became your number one mental health treatment facilities. What CIT does is train officers to deal with the mentally ill. It teaches them deescalazation techniques. It teaches them that there are resources in the community that can help these people..."

Chief Elvins says in a use-of-force incident it often requires a split-second decision on how to proceed, and the training helps officers to learn techniques to deescalate the situation.

Chief Steffes says most new police officers are taught these techniques at the academy level.