Burlington Police Work to Serve the Mentally Ill


By Times-News Staff

Burlington police have completed a program to improve interaction between officers and persons with mental illness.

Some police departments estimate that as much as 20 percent of calls are related to mental health issues, police say, so mental illness has become a focus for law enforcement.

To join the One Mind Campaign, agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices in 12–36 months. The campaign is sponsored by the 30,000-member International Association of Chiefs of Police, which provides training, technical assistance and recruitment services.

Burlington police established a partnership with two local mental health organizations, developed and implemented a policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental illness, and ensured that all officers received some type of mental health awareness training, police say.

At least 20 percent of the department completed the more intensive Crisis Intervention Training, a 40-hour curriculum designed by local agencies to train a team of specialized officers to respond to calls that involve individuals with mental health disorders such as depression and intellectual disability. The curriculum includes education on various de-escalation techniques as well as live role-play scenarios for officers responding to persons who need mental health assistance, police say.

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