The Clarksville Police Department launched the city’s first crisis intervention team on Dec. 3, assisting in cases where individuals face mental illness or emotional crisis and de-escalating situations through specialized responses.
Between CPD and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office members, 23 individuals graduated from a 40-hour crisis intervention class led by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said spokesperson Scott Beaubien.
Just this year, CPD responded to more than 682 calls for service requiring mental health transport and over 165 calls for suicide or suicidal attempts.
Police Chief David Crockarell said establishing a crisis intervention team is a significant step for the department.
“In my 26 years of working in law enforcement, the most stressful part of my job was working in the emergency room off duty and dealing with people with emotional issues and not knowing what to do," Crockarell said.
Law enforcement is typically the first to respond to calls involving individuals suffering from a mental or emotional crisis.
"The nation needs programs like this, so let’s do our part by helping these people get the support they need," Crockarell added.
Deputy Chief Charles “Ty” Burdine said the long-term benefit of the CIT program is beyond beneficial for everyone involved.
"Some communities have found that CIT has reduced the time spent by officers responding to mental health calls, hence putting them back in the community in an expedited manner,” Burdine said.
Police officers participating in the CIT initiative will not be dedicated explicitly to mental crises, Beaubien said. However, they will be readily available to assist in the rare situations where CIT officers are not initially involved.
For more information about mental health by the numbers, visit https://www.nami.org/mhstats.
This article originally appeared on Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: Clarksville Police launches mental health initiative