Mental Health Training For Clark County Police

by Devin Katayama on August 4, 2011

Clark County police officers are being trained in a new crisis intervention program. The training will help the officers make the appropriate decision for someone they believe to have a mental illness.

“That officer will now know that we’re going to take him to the hospital first for an evaluation because this may not be criminal conduct at all, this may be psychological,” said Dan Moore, the Circuit Court Judge that handles the county’s mental health docket.

When police are first to respond on-scene it’s their responsibility to assess whether someone needs medical treatment. But certain mental health conditions like bi-polar and schizophrenia aren’t always easy to spot.

Now, nine officers in Clark County will be trained in how to better determine these conditions.

“Our goal is to train the officers to recognize hey, this is a mental situation, it’s not necessary a criminal disorderly conduct or a criminal mischief situation,” said Moore.

Indiana law says police can place a 24-hour hold on anyone they suspect of having a mental illness. And, if needed, the hospital and court can extend that time to up to 90 days.

Having officers refer mental health patients to proper care could also reduce the jail population, said Moore who expects the nine newly-trained officers to educate their colleagues.

The program was mostly funded by a $60,000 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. When the officers end training on Friday they will have completed 40 hours of crisis prevention education.

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