Police respond to mental health crisis

In light of recent high profile shootings that have involved victims who were potentially in a mental health crisis, police departments and law makers are trying to increase the training that officers receive to prevent these instances, according to USAtoday.

Studies have found that people with mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police and make up a significant amount of the United States prison population.

Tana Kunze, a John Brown University student who spent the summer interning at a police department, said, “I cannot speak for all police departments collectively, but at the police department I interned with over the summer, I observed those officers to be very efficient when responding to subjects with mental health issues.”

She said, “All sworn personnel must go through an annual training to renew their certifications in handling these types of situations.”

She explained that she does not know the specifics of what the training involves, but said, “ I think it is important that all officers go through training to be as prepared as possible when handling people that have special circumstances.”

Minneapolis is starting a program which partners mental health professionals with police officers on the scene, according to USAtoday.

Kunze has seen success with a program like this. She said, “At my local department, they have a mental health co-responder hired through the county. She was able to offer input while officers were called to situations that warrant special attention.”

According to USAtoday, this program has been used by several large and midsized cities and has saved money, time and helped people receive the help that they need.

CHRISTIE NICHOLAS/ TheThreefoldAdvocate