Police trained how to handle people with mental illness

January 14, 2010 (CHICAGO) This program is essential because there has been a significant increase in mental health crisis calls.

Economic struggles and services cutbacks have been a major challenges for people with mental illness. The Chicago Police Department has been preparing themselves for these situations since 2004.

David Yabroff is a consumer-actor who is part of Thresholds, Chicago's largest mental health agency's theater project. Real-life situations have been recreated to teach officers how to deal with people with mental illness.

"We now find that family members and consumers themselves are calling the police, and asking for help and asking for CIT officers," said Officer Jeffrey Murphy.

Murphy is the lead person on the CIT program.

"It has been a team effort of countless individuals who are concerned and care enough to dedicate their time to help the Chicago Police Department deliver the best service possible for citizens of Chicago," Murphy said.

Detective Joseph Gentile has had several successful interventions.

"Had I had not had the training, those people would have probably been arrested," Gentile said, "and I think that CIT training developed the ability, maybe, to divert or change the style of law enforcement looks at a scene and identifying underlying issues."

Becky Batic is an officer in the 7th District.

"It's hard for some people who don't have experience in dealing with mental health issues prior to being in the police department. I worked in a hospital doing mental health assessment, plus I worked with the department for family services," said Batic.

"We're also looking at specific types of groups and individuals who may need our services such as veterans in crisis or returning warriors. There are issues involving them that we want to address, so youth and juvenile's in crisis as well," said Murphy.

The Chicago Police Department is hope to get many more officers trained in the Crisis Intervention Program.


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