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Training

Police-Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC) Toolkit

Training for Police-Mental Health Collaboration Programs

An essential element of PMHC programs is to provide specialized and comprehensive training to officers who respond to incidents involving a person with a mental illness. When law enforcement officers participate in standardized training with qualified and effective trainers, they are better able to understand mental illnesses and the impact on individuals, families, and communities. Through effective training, officers learn to identify signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and how to utilize a range of stabilization and de-escalation techniques, and they learn about disposition options, community resources, and legal issues. This section provides an overview of the necessary training for officers to safely and effectively manage encounters with people with mental illness. It focuses on types of training, timeframes for training officers, suggested curricula to use, and other resources for a comprehensive training program.

Quote from Mental Health Officer Roberta Stellick, Madison Police Agency

Peers and Families in Training

During CIT and other training about mental illness, law enforcement officers hear stories from people who have personally experienced a mental health crisis and their family members. Stories often include details about barriers to accessing treatment and services, interactions with law enforcement, and feelings about the stigma of mental illness. This peer and family perspectives panel is an opportunity for officers to gain a deeper understanding of mental illness and the experience of responding to and interacting with a person living with a serious mental illness who is in crisis.
 

  1. Sharing Your Story (1 pager)
  2. Training Map
  3. Trainer’s Guide
  4. Presenter’s Guide
  5. Coaching Session Powerpoint

Crisis Intervention Team Training

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training is the course of instruction associated with the CIT approach to responding to people with mental illness. The CIT training course requires an extensive 40-hour curriculum taught over five consecutive days. The course emphasizes understanding of mental illness and incorporates the development of communication skills, practical experience and role-playing. Officers are introduced to mental health professionals, consumers and family members both in the classroom and through site visits.

 

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Mental Health First Aid For Public Safety

Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is an eight-hour course specially designed for police officers, first responders, corrections officers and other public safety professionals, helping them better understand mental illnesses and addictions and providing them with effective response options to deescalate incidents without compromising safety. It teaches an evidenced-based, 5-step action plan which includes the skills, resources, and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, and self-help care. Participants learn to identify the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, build an understanding of the importance of early intervention, and, most importantly, learn how to help someone in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Mental Health First Aid is not a substitute for a police-mental health collaboration strategy, but, a primer in building a larger coordinated response and providing a beginning to community-wide response.

For more information on reaching your target population with Mental Health First Aid, visit https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/population-focused-modules/public-safety/

Recruit Academy Training

Many agencies have determined that because all their officers respond to mental health calls, they need to have the specialized training, knowledge, and skills to respond appropriately. These agencies typically incorporate a comprehensive PMHC curriculum into their recruit academy training. Several curriculums at the recruit level that could be delivered are: the original 40-hour CIT Training curriculum, a modified curriculum, or a custom-developed PMHC curriculum to ensure that it is consistent with the agency's training approach and community resources and needs.  Recruit academy training is not sufficient by itself to prepare a police force to respond appropriately to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Recruit academy training must exist alongside a more comprehensive and robust program to be effective. The following are examples from the Houston Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the State of Ohio, and Clermont County, Ohio:

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In-Service and Roll-Call Training

In-service and roll-call training provide law enforcement agencies with the opportunities to convey new policies and tactics to officers, to refresh knowledge, and to reinforce skills learned in previous recruit or specialized training courses. Many agencies have been able to use these training opportunities to convey to officers important information about PMHC programs. Roll call training is not sufficient by itself to prepare a police force to respond appropriately to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Roll call training must exist alongside a more comprehensive and robust program to be effective.

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Special Topics and Information To Customize Training Programs Pathways to Justice®: A National Curriculum for Criminal Justice Professionals on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

This comprehensive, community-based training program provides critical information about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to three primary audiences: law enforcement, legal professionals, and victim service providers. Pathways gives law enforcement and supporting professionals the tools they need to effectively communicate with and serve people with I/DD. The curriculum contains six modules that cover: identification of disability, disability culture, effective communication, common interactions, accommodations and developing an action plan. Three of the modules are profession-specific and designed for Pathways’ target audiences. The training is customizable based on unique issues criminal justice and disability professionals/advocates want to address in their communities. Pathways is available at no cost to law enforcement agencies and district attorneys’ offices through the Pathways to Justice® website.

For more information:

FAQs

Training

Focused Tools for Law Enforcement

Many communities struggle with the PMHC program design process. Communities are unsure how to design and develop a PMHC program that meets their distinct needs and challenges. One way to increase knowledge of PMHCs, is to review programs that other jurisdictions have developed and tailor those programs to your specific community needs.

Law Enforcement agencies interested in expanding their knowledge base, starting, or enhancing a PMHC, can contact The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) or BJA’s Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Provider. BJA supports these urban and rural police departments to act as host-sites to visiting law enforcement agencies and their mental health partners.

Located across the country, these learning sites represent a diverse cross-section of perspectives and program examples and are dedicated to helping other jurisdictions improve their responses to people with mental illnesses.

Opportunities

The fourteen learning sites host site visits from interested colleagues and other local and state government officials, answer questions from the field, and work with BJA’s TTA provider to develop materials for practitioners and their community partners.

TTA is provided to law enforcement agencies and their community partners in an effort to assist with the development or implementation of PMHC strategies. Supplemental funds can be made available to agencies that are interested in visiting the learning sites. This is a focused approach intended to provide your agency with access to outstanding peer resources for police-mental health collaboration programs.

PMHC Map

To request TTA and receive confirmation within 36 hours of your request

Complete the TA request form.

For frequently asked questions about the Law Enforcement Mental Health Learning Sites, access the TA FAQs.

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Law Enforcement Learning Sites

Support jurisdictions in exploring strategies to improve the outcomes of encounters between law enforcement and people who have mental illnesses.

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Contact PMHC

Please submit questions, policies and training materials that can benefit others for review and consideration.

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