By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TUSCALOOSA — The Tuscaloosa Police Department announced it is gearing up to handle calls involving people suffering from mental health challenges.
The department now has five certified Mental Health Officers and nine Crisis Intervention Team patrol officers. The work isn’t finished and the department hopes to have 20 patrol officers trained to respond to individuals suffering from mental health crises.
“In addition to classroom instruction, the training included a practical scenario where the officers experienced what it felt like to try to accomplish simple tasks while hearing voices, site visits to Indian Rivers and North Harbor, a consumer impact panel and more practical de-escalation scenarios,” TPD posted on Facebook.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the University of Alabama also participated in the self-instructed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.
According to the NAMI, the lack of mental health services across the nation has resulted in police officers serving as first responders to mental health crises. CIT training has improved outcomes of these types of encounters in over 2,700 communities nationwide, by providing understanding, safety and communication.