Departments accustomed to arresting drug abusers are spearheading programs to get them into treatment, convinced that their old strategies weren’t working. They’re administering medication that reverses overdoses, allowing users to turn in drugs in exchange for treatment, and partnering with hospitals to intervene before abuse turns fatal.
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The most unique factor of the program: If a participant relapses into drug use, it’s not necessarily a trip to a county lockup. They’re given a second chance as long as they show signs of progress toward recovery.
Training for the frontline civilian employees included how to best communicate with callers who may be having a mental health crisis, techniques to calm a situation before officers arrive and how to recognize situations that may need a response from officers specially trained in crisis intervention.
As he considers how to put his public safety agenda into action, we urge him to listen to the people who know this work best: law enforcement leaders.
Sacramento City Council members on Thursday unanimously approved giving all Sacramento police officers a week of training to better deal with people with mental illness. Crisis Intervention Team training is widely used across the United States, and teaches officers to recognize and de-escalate situations with noncompliant or difficult people.
Mental-health professionals teaching Clermont police crisis-intervention techniques recently put their training into practice.
The unusual exchange grows out of a new partnership between the Albuquerque Police Department and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine’s Project ECHO — a 13-year-old initiative that began as an effort to help inform primary care doctors in far-flung areas of the state in the treatment of hepatitis C, but has now expanded to become a knowledge-sharing network across a variety of diseases and specialties.
Baltimore County, Maryland will work with the nonprofit Council of State Governments Justice Center over the next six months to evaluate police training in behavioral health responses, de-escalation strategies, and cultural competence.
“Knowledge is power and I feel that if I can send officers out in the field with more knowledge and more tools for their tool box, then they will be able to handle mental health crisis calls better and foster better outcomes for all involved,” explained Domino Scott-Jackson, a Pasadena Police officer who has become the face of the Police-Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit video produced by The CSG Justice Center.
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the recent report issued by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice condemning various police practices in Baltimore. What has gone largely unmentioned, however, is the report’s detailed review of how encounters between police and people with mental illnesses result in “unnecessarily violent confrontations.”