Michigan police officers train for mental health crisis response, de-escalation

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 6:53 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The majority of calls police respond to involve some type of mental health concern. This week, more than forty law enforcement members in Mid-Michigan became certified in mental health crisis de-escalation.

The 40-hour training is getting to the root cause of problems with training scenarios, based on real-life situations.

“Unfortunately, this is a common thing for us, a common occurrence,” said Sgt. Jonte Slack, with the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s hard to say how many times I come into contact with somebody with a mental illness, but it’s definitely a lot,” said Maggie Cole, Meridian Township Police Officer.

Law enforcement members volunteer to take this week-long course, to become crisis intervention team certified. If you call the police and request a CIT-certified officer, the officer sent will be an expert on de-escalation and recovery resources.

“This isn’t to fix an officer that has discipline issues, we’re really looking for officers who are passionate about this program,” said Melissa Misner, Crisis Intervention Training Coordinator.

Incarceration can cost the state of Michigan three times more than mental health treatments do. These practices also significantly improve officer and citizen safety.

“I would definitely recommend other officers do this training,” Cole said.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are over 2 million arrests of people who need mental health treatment each year. The training is meant to reduce that number, by using methods that are proven to work.

“Our community is very very sick. There’s help out there, and someone just needs to call 911 and ask for a CIT officer,” said Melissa Misner, Crisis Intervention Training Coordinator.

Crisis situations have caused officer and citizen deaths. Now, more than 400 law enforcement officers in Mid-Michigan are trained in the potentially lifesaving treatment. The training program has trained officers from as far away as the Upper Peninsula.

The program is not mandatory and is privately funded.

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