Living with a mental illness can provide numerous daily challenges for children, adolescents, adults and seniors alike. While behavioral and mental health challenges can take many forms, the reality is that anger, depression, anxiety, PTSD and other aspects can potentially make interactions with law enforcement difficult at times.
Those dealing with significant mental health issues may act or react in certain ways to police officers who are responding to the scene, and encounters can often create unintended consequences at times. There are times when officers are forced to utilize their weapons without full knowledge of the type of individual they are dealing with, while other time the few who are able to have the situation resolved peacefully may end up repeating the same cycle of reactions down the road.
Ultimately, law enforcement across the country is recognizing the critical need for different types of training for LEO’s; a way to train them for interactions with those who are struggling with mental health issues, behavioral health issues and who can be a danger to themselves or to others.
The Greely Police Department, in Greeley, CO, has recently started training certain officers as part of their Crisis Intervention Team, which will help reduce the chances of violent encounters with mental health sufferers. Police officers often have to make split-second decisions that can potentially end in the death of someone going through a significant mental or behavioral health crisis.
The overall goal is to be able to identify and address these individuals without the need of force, and it has already begun to show its effectiveness. The department is also teaming up with Clear View Behavioral Health to help those who need therapy once they are released from jail. As we move forward, it will be great to see more and more success stories coming from the Crisis Intervention Team and in other police departments throughout Colorado and the US as they focus on training officers for encounters with mental or behavioral health sufferers.