Thursday, January 29, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

All law officers need Crisis Intervention Team training

By Bob Schelen

Isla Vista. Fullerton. A Los Angeles freeway.

These are all places where training in handling people with mental illness may have made a difference.

In Isla Vista, someone might have noticed a behavior pattern that would have warranted a search or a 5150 hold, and a mass killing may have been stopped. In Fullerton, perhaps police officers might have noticed a pattern of behavior that would have kept a man alive, and in Los Angeles, perhaps a highway patrol officer may have been able to better handle a woman crossing a freeway.

The job of a peace officer is often a thankless and dangerous one, and we owe these men and women a great deal for what they sacrifice for our safety. It is important to note the great work that peace officers do, but we must also work to develop ways to make their jobs safer and to help them recognize a person in crisis and in need of help.

I know there are always “should haves” and could haves” on how to handle dangerous situations, and we need to be cognizant of the safety of both law enforcement and the general public. However, we do know that there are things that can be done — things that already have been done and have quantifiable success.

Police are often first responders to a mental health crisis, and it has been estimated that up to 35 percent of jail inmates throughout the country may have a mental illness. How do law-enforcement personnel deal with a person they encounter who has a mental illness? The answer can determine whether a situation becomes a tragedy or provides help for someone.

Increasingly, Crisis Intervention Team training helps fill the gap between for law-enforcement personnel. CIT officers are trained to deal with someone in a mental health crisis or to deal with someone with a mental illness. They have been trained in what to look for and how to talk to the person in crisis.

CIT programs provide law enforcement-based crisis intervention training for helping individuals with mental illness. In addition, CIT works in partnership with the mental health care system to provide services that are friendly and helpful to the individuals with mental illness, family members and police officers.

As a result, additional training on how to respond to someone with a mental illness reduces the risk of injuries to officers, avoids unnecessary arrests, reduces chances for ugly and violent altercations, directs individuals with mental illness to appropriate treatment, increases public safety and lowers costs to taxpayers.

CIT training allows law-enforcement officers to break down barriers, to not put themselves in an “us vs. them” situation. It allows better understanding of what a person with mental illness is going through. One officer who had received the training said, “For us to understand what schizophrenia is from their point of view is tremendous. Most of us have no or little point of reference to know what their life is like.”

CIT training makes a difference. If someone destroys property or acts out during a mental health crisis, putting them in jail is not a solution. A diversion program where they can make restitution and get treatment is a far superior resolution. It may keep a similar event from happening again.

Related to CIT training is the special court system. We have started such efforts in Yolo County, but they are only beginning to see results as pilot programs. It is important that they are made permanent and expanded. Research shows the success of such programs throughout the nation.

CIT training should not be limited only to first responders; it needs to be an important part of the jail system, too. According to a recent study by the Treatment Advocacy Center, “there are now three times more seriously mental ill persons in jails and prisons than in hospitals.” In other words, “America’s jails and prisons have become our new mental hospitals.”

This situation results in enormous costs since offenders with mental illness are “frequent fliers” — that is, they experience high rates of recidivism — and their imprisonment costs more than prisoners without mental illnesses.

In addition, the TAC report notes, mentally ill inmates stay longer in jail, are more likely to commit suicide, are subject to abuse and, because of sometimes impaired judgement, may be disruptive, violent and destructive.

Ideally, with CIT training, families and those with mental illness will not view law enforcement as the enemy, but as people with training who can understand what they are going through.

If an officer responds to a crisis situation and uses his CIT knowledge in a successful intervention, perhaps that keeps another officer from returning to that house or to that person. Perhaps, it allows those who visited the house in Isla Vista to recognize signs where they can act to avoid tragedy. Perhaps, it allows for treatment for those in crisis.

There is progress, but there continues to be a stigma attached to mental illness. And when people with mental illness become a part of the criminal justice system, that is not always recognized. CIT training recognizes it and informs those involved that it is a medical issue.

We need to change hearts and minds. We need to do so in our community, our county, our state. CIT training should not be an “extra,” an elective for officers and deputies. A start is to require Crisis Intervention Team training for all law-enforcement personnel in Yolo County.

It just makes sense.

— Bob Schelen, a longtime Davis resident, is chairman of the Yolo County Mental Health Board.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

.

News

 
‘Huck’ and ‘Tom’ float old Arboretum dock to removal

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Work continues to modernize Davis Healthcare Center

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
Holman continues to educate and inspire

By Daniella Tutino | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Teens arrested after midnight joyride

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Biologists: Raising California dam would harm salmon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Overweight video game avatars ‘play’ worse than fit ones

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Meet the mayor for coffee at Peet’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Author joins radio show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Make your own SoulCollage on Sunday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Walk through Quail Ridge Reserve on Feb. 14

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Calling all chicken owners: Apply for coop crawl, share information

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Hopmans named associate vice provost for global affairs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Review motivation to refresh your healthy-habits plan

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Tips to protect skin this winter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
For health and healthy appearance, there’s just one quick fix

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

NAMI-Yolo examines inpatient services at potluck

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Measles outbreak grows

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Basement living, with attitude to match

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
50 years since Ash Hall

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Can climate change bring us together?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino coming to a vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Aggies still looking for record hoops win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Blue Devil Hammond has a huge day at home

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Pent up? Join Davis’ latest athletic event

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Two in a row for Devil boys

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

UCD roundup: Aggie football players crack the books

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Youth roundup: Harper hoopsters off to hot start

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Treys send Toronto past Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

 
College Corner: Have wanderlust? Go overseas for college

By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A8

District learns from bomb threat incident

By Kellen Browning | From Page: A8

 
It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Feenstra-Fisher wedding

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
.

Arts

Show explores the evolution of dance

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
A rose by any other name — if there is one

By Michael Lewis | From Page: A11

 
Acclaimed guitarist Adrian Legg to play at The Palms on Saturday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Business

.

Obituaries

James George Tingus

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, January 29, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B6