Franklin County Officers Training to Help in Crisis - The Missourian: News

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Franklin County Officers Training to Help in Crisis

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Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 11:00 am | Updated: 2:57 pm, Thu Oct 24, 2013.

County law enforcement officers continue to streamline the process to safely get help to people with mental illness during a crisis.

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training is being conducted at the Washington police department by counselors, mental health professionals and law enforcement to train authorities to assist people with mental illness to get them the best care possible to prevent harm to themselves and others, said Union police officer Mike Joyce.

Joyce is the chairman of the training committee for the Franklin County CIT program which is working to hold two training sessions each year to have more intervention trained officers.

The goal is to get people with mental illnesses help.

“They are typically suicidal,” Joyce said. “They are not criminals — they have a mental illness that they didn’t ask for.”

There are 16 trainees in this training group, comprised of enforcement officers and three probation and parole officers.

Joyce explained that in the past, officers would take people with mental illness, such as psychosis, who were involved in a crisis to jail to be held for “safe keeping.”

“Now we take them directly to a psychiatric hospital and avoid the jail setting,” said Joyce. “This streamlines the care a person gets — from the time we are on the scene until they are in capable medical hands.”

He added that in the past it would have taken four to five hours to get a patient into a hospital, including finding a judge to sign a commitment order. Now it take two hours or less.

Joyce is the chairman of the training committee for the Franklin County CIT program which is working to hold two training sessions each year to have more intervention trained officers.

He said that during this crop of training there are officers from every city in the county and Franklin County deputies.

The training includes tours of facilities, including the Crider Harmony House and CenterPointe Hospital, both in Washington.

“They get a chance to meet some of the people on site that we would deal with,” said Joyce,

The 40-hour, weeklong training, scheduled to conclude Friday, is conducted by counselors, mental health professionals and law enforcement. The training at the Washington police department.

A session last year trained 22 law enforcement officers.

Taking part are representatives of several facilities including Missouri Baptist Hospital, Preferred Family Healthcare and Crider Center.

Richard D. Stevenson, director of special projects for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of St. Louis, has been key in the training, noted Joyce.

There are CIT programs in all seven counties in the St. Louis area.

Public Awareness

Joyce said a key to helping those with mental illness is to inform the public that help is available.

He explained that family members can contact authorities and request a CIT when there is a crisis.

“Oftentimes people find themselves in a situation where their son or daughter use drugs and that sends them into a bad mental trauma,” he said. “People don’t know where to go or who to turn to.“

Joyce said he has encountered many situations as an officer that CIT training would have been useful.

“I have been an officer 23 years and wish I had this the first year of patrol duties,” he said. “We all encounter mental illness in various forms.

“This program is a real blessing to the people who received help,” Joyce added. “The number of cases is increasing and we are getting a better solution.”

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