A new federal grant breaks down barriers and helps law enforcement understand mental health. The state agency dedicated to mental health support said it had already helped 1,900 law enforcement officers undergo crisis intervention training (CIT).
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Addiction (ODMHSAS) said this five-year grant, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, would only bolster their efforts across the state.
“This is a very important topic to talk about and law enforcement agencies are really receptive to it,” said Jeff Dismukes, communications director for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction at the Oklahoma.
“It is not a crime to have a mental illness. How do we ensure the safety of the most vulnerable part of our population? Said Lieutenant Cary Bryant, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Norman Police Department.
The federal government will contribute $ 121,000 to ODMSSAS each year for 5 years to advance the CIT.
“He supports our efforts with the training of law enforcement agencies across the state. This allows us to deepen our awareness and schedule additional trainings, ”said Dismukes.
Over the years, the ministry has trained 170 organizations. Some police stations have taken it upon themselves to continue their efforts.
“About 38% of my commission force are trained at CIT, 61 officers, which includes our eight school resource officers,” said Bryant.
The one-week training addresses a variety of mental health issues and solutions.
“We are talking about juvenile issues, we are talking about concurrent disorders, which is mental illness and addiction, we are talking about suicide, we are talking about crisis communication,” said Bryant.
Bryant has been a CIT instructor for nine years. He said he sees firsthand how useful the training is.
“They look back at some of those interactions and they’re like, ‘I could have gone back and handled this differently if I had known what I know now,” “he said.
The Department of Mental Health and Addiction also offers refresher courses to officers after completing their training.