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Annapolis Police to Improve Response to Mental Illness

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This week, the Annapolis Police Department joined the ranks of over 120 other agencies pledged to the One Mind Campaign, an endeavor by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to improve the relationship between officers and those affected by mental illness.

The One Mind Campaign asks pledging agencies to implement four practices over a 12-36 month period. These practices include establishing a partnership with one or more community mental health organization(s); developing and implementing a model policy addressing police response to persons with mental illness; training and certifying 100 percent of the agency’s sworn officers, as well as selected non-sworn staff, Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety (MHFA); and finally, providing Crisis Intervention Team training to 20 percent of sworn and selected non-sworn staff.

Corporal Amy Miguez, spokeswoman of the Annapolis Police Department, explained that the department has already provided some of the training required by the Campaign to officers on staff, and that this will expand that training and help officers on a variety of calls. To this end, the One Mind Campaign aids law enforcement agencies in pre-existing efforts and intentions to bridge a gap to the mental health community by giving them specific guidelines and regulations to which they will be held accountable.

“The Annapolis Police Department recognizes the need to enhance officer skills for effective interactions with people suffering from mental illness” (Cook, 2017, n.p.), said Acting Chief Scott Baker. “Officers will learn de-escalation techniques that should aid in successful outcomes of crisis situations” (Cook, 2017, n.p.).

According to a Special Report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2006, 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of jail inmates had some sort of mental health problem. In this report, a mental health problem was defined by either a clinical diagnosis or treatment by a mental health professional in the 12 months prior to the interviews taken for the report, or by symptoms displayed within the same time frame that were consistent to symptoms identified in the then-current fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (James, 2006, n.p.).

These statistics demonstrate the need for law enforcement officers to have some degree of understanding and familiarity with mental health problems. With approximately half of all individuals being incarcerated having recent problems with their mental health, training in MHFA would keep officers well equipped for situations to which they might otherwise not know how to respond.

When similar measures were taken in Chicago to train both police officers and 911 dispatchers to respond to these situations, Chicago public health commissioner Dr. Julie Morita said that, “this training[…] can end up helping those with mental or behavioral health problems receive the treatment and services they need” (O’Connell, 2017, n.p.). She added that by identifying people who need help, first responders can better connect those in crisis with service providers, as opposed to sending them into the criminal justice system.

This proactive response is one to which the Annapolis Police Department, as well as other agencies that have pledged to the One Mind Campaign, aspire. Annapolis, Chicago, and all other cities protected by officers who are trained in mental health response are able to stay ahead of potential crises and instead, foster local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations so that they become of– “one mind.”

For more information on this topic please read, “Annapolis Police Supports Mental Health Campaign.”

References:

Cook, C. (2017, June 19). Annapolis police to ramp up training on mental illness. Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/annapolis/ph-ac-cn-police-one-mind-0620-20170619-story.html

James, D. J., & Glaze, L. E. (2006, September). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates (Rep.). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from Bureau of Justice Statistics website: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf

O’Connell, P. M. (2017, February 25). All Chicago police dispatchers now trained in mental health awareness. Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-911-operators-mental-health-training-met-20170225-story.html

One Mind Campaign. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign

Thomas, D. (2017, June 19). Annapolis Police Supports Mental Health Campaign. Retrieved June 21, 2017, from https://patch.com/maryland/annapolis/annapolis-pd-supports-one-mind-campaign

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