Late week, Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill ensuring that all police in the state can get some kind of mental health crisis intervention training, reported NPR.
Crisis Intervention Team training includes workshops touching on everything from making suicide assessments to talking to people on the autism spectrum. The training include forging partnerships with community mental health providers and understanding de-escalation techniques.
There are about 2,700 Crisis Intervention Teams nationwide—a fraction of the 18,000 state and local law enforcement jurisdictions across country.
"The characteristic of your work that sets you apart from every other professional is that you never know what you're walking into," Madelon Baranoski, of Yale School of Medicine's Law and Psychiatry division told NPR.. Baranoski's first goal is to give the officers she trains an understanding of various types of behavioral health issues. Psychotic illnesses, for instance, are the ones that make a person unable to tell the difference between thought and reality.
To illustrate, she confesses something many people feel when giving a public talk — she's nervous, and worried about how people will react. But she knows those are her thoughts, and no one else's.
"As long as I know I'm thinking it, I have a choice on how to change my behavior," Baranoski says. "But if I were mentally ill — particularly if I had a mental illness that interfered with what we call reality testing — I think, 'Because you're staring at me, you're thinking I'm stupid.' "
This training is an eye-opener for Fairfield, CT officer John McGrath. "You know, protocol for a police officer is always, 'Protect yourself,' " McGrath told NPR. "To be able to learn what they're thinking and what's going on in their mind, kind of gives you a better perspective of what's going on and what you're able to do to further protect yourself and to protect them."
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