When responding to a call, law enforcement officers know very little about what they are going to encounter. Every situation is unique, therefore, every response is different. In order to equip officers with the skills needed to protect everyone involved, Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is offered.
The program is administered by the Salt Lake Police Department and provides training to law enforcement agencies across Utah. Correction and parole officers, mental health workers, public safety dispatchers and social workers also benefit from CIT training.
During the course, participants learn how to effectively deal with situations involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis. CIT works toward building strong relationships between law enforcement agencies and mental health resources.
Last week, local law enforcement officers from Price City Police Department, Carbon County Sheriff’s Department, Helper City Police Department and various other agencies participated in the CIT program in Price. Four Corners Mental Health, Carbon County Drug Court, Juvenile Justice Services, Public Safety Dispatch and other organizations also participated in the training.
According to CIT trainer Liane Frederick, the 40 hour course allows participants to recognize situations involving mental health issues. “One in four people will experience a mental health crisis,” Frederick explained. “This course teaches participants how to recognize, not diagnose a mental health situation. We teach empathy which results in a better experience for everyone involved.”
Many in attendance at Friday mornings training session agreed. After completing the course, several officers felt that they would be able to assist the public more effectively. “As a fairly new officer, this training has taught me how to assess a situation and determine whether a call is a criminal matter or one that needs mental health attention,” explained Helper City Police Officer Brady Andreason. “By contacting appropriate agencies immediately, we will eliminate hardships on everyone involved.”
Because law enforcement officers are usually the first to respond to a crisis situation, the course provides information and offers hands-on experience to provide an understanding as to why an individual may react a certain way to any given situation. De-escalating tactics and techniques are taught through CIT, which provides enhanced awareness for mental health cases.
Price City Police Captain Bill Barnes explained that this training is a benefit to not only participants, but to the public as well. “We have several local agencies that have already completed this training,” he explained. “It allows us to serve the public more efficiently while providing us with additional skills.”
During the training, participants visited with several groups of people. A visit to the state mental hospital and a stop at Four Corners Mental Health, allowed one-on-one interaction and provided real life scenarios. “The course becomes real when we visit these facilities,” Frederick stated. “These visits make the biggest impact on those involved in the training.”
Law enforcement from both Carbon and Emery counties are certified CIT officers, with many more planning to certify. The increased training and knowledge will benefit residents in both counties.