Jim Ritz: Berwyn police and mental health
In the law enforcement profession, we enter the lives of those we serve who experience traumatic and critical life-stressors on a daily basis. The role police officers play on the scene of these types of incidents is dangerous, extremely challenging and unpredictable. These types of calls have become a mounting and volatile problem for first responders.
To better understand and respond to the inherent risks in dealing with people with mental health issues who are imminently dangerous, suicidal and experiencing some type of emotional distress, our department established a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Safety of our first responders is paramount. Police officers are more likely to be killed or injured by someone with a mental illness than by someone without.
The CIT model was created in Memphis in 1998. This approach provided a framework for specially trained police officers to respond to calls of people with mental health disorders. The CIT model incorporates two main components: a collaborative framework among community mental health resources, recipients of those services and local law enforcement agencies, and a specialized training for CIT officers in mental health issues, crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques.
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