make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

Police learn how to deal with mentally ill

READ MORE: Police learn how to deal with mentally ill
A new law enforcement training program is helping make the community safer, while at the same time helping the mentally ill receive treatment. 54 officers in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties have completed the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. The program's goal is to teach officers to protect themselves, the community, and the safety of the mentally ill. Kevin Smith of the WPD said, "We learned to recognize when someone is in a crisis situation with mental health disability and that's valuable on the street." When the officers are called out to a non-violent crime, they now know how to determine if an individual is mentally ill. For example, instead of approaching them with authority, they introduce themselves using their first name, and ask them to talk about what they're going through. Based on the person's behavior, speech, and answers they determine if the person is mentally ill so they can talk with them about seeking treatment. With the new CIT training, law enforcement officers no longer take the mentally ill who commit a crime to jail but to centers like SE Mental Health for treatment." This will reduce the number of people in already overcrowded jails, and reduce the strain on officers. Stan Oathout of the National Alliance on Mental Illness said, “Crime is stopped obviously that's the first thing the situation is de-escalated cause it could turn into a dangerous situation then the person gets treatment and hopefully is returned to the community as a contributing member of the community." If an individual commits a violent crime, mentally ill or not, they will be taken to jail. By next year, more than 100 law enforcement agents in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties will have completed the crisis intervention team training.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Crisis response

Where are they training the officers to take the mentally ill in crisis? I work with mentally ill children and every time we as professionals feel the children are in crisis and in need of hospitalization, the committment is not accepted or the ER sends them home. The county needs to train the ER as well!

Go even further

How are they being trained to discern a mentally ill individual from someone who is, for example, just very, very agitated? Officers are not trained mental health professionals. There is the extreme possibility that these officers may very well decide to dump someone who is NOT mentally ill with one of the facilities, such as SouthEastern (mentioned in the article). Where do THEY make the decision of where the line is drawn between mental illness and not mentally ill? I see very strong probabilities of misuse of power here as well. It might feasibly reduce the burden on the jails, but it will increase the burden on the mental health and ER facilities (if ERs are used as "dumping sites". Andrew

mentally ill

Alot of the mentally ill who will have contact with law enforcement already have records because officers were not trained how to deal with the population and they were automatically taken to jail. If you've worked in either field long enough you can tell the difference. There is a definate need for this training and it is a step in the right direction!

nice start

Now teach us how to deal with the mentally ill police and we will all get along better.