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Crisis intervention training set, interest grows

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Two police officers have already been trained to deal with mentally ill people for the Evansville-based Crisis Intervention Team. Now, the Southwestern Indiana Law Enforcement Academy will train approximately 35 others.

The academy will host a 40-hour training session for others who work in law enforcement at 8 a.m. Feb. 23 at the Welborn Conference Center, 410 Mulberry St., Evansville. The Crisis Intervention Team is a cooperative effort between the Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department, local hospitals, the mental health community, and other community members.

Participants from the Evansville Police Department and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department will learn from health-care professionals, members of the local judiciary, law enforcement officers, and members of the community familiar with mental illness how to recognize and better communicate with individuals with mental illnesses.

By recognizing the signs of mental illness and knowing how those individuals should be treated, police officers will be better equipped to de-escalate volatile situations where officers are called to respond, according to proponents of the training, including Vanderburgh Superior Magistrate Judge Jill Marcrum, who has been among those who led the initiative to have the trainings in Evansville.

Evansville was one of the newest CITs in Indiana when it officially started Oct. 27, 2008. Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Richmond, Gary, Bloomington, Warsaw, Elkhart, and Porter County already had their own CITs, according to Kellie Meyer, the criminal justice director at the National Alliance of Mental Illness Indiana.

Madison and Howard counties have had meetings about creating CITs and Delaware and Jennings counties have asked the National Alliance of Mental Illness Indiana for help in setting community stakeholder meetings to begin the process, Meyer added.

Indiana Lawyer previously reported on CIT training in Evansville in the Nov. 12-25, 2008, issue, "Crisis team set to begin."

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