[HUNTSVILLE, AL]- WellStone is proud to partner with Huntsville Police Department as they offer Crisis Intervention training courses for their officers. The Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program is a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health professionals, mental health consumers and family member advocates. HPD recently published an official informational piece to make details more clear and information more easily accessible.
The program is nationally standardized and trains officers in technical skills to prepare them to respond to mental health-related calls in a manner that minimalizes trauma and effectively diverts individuals into the system of care. With the teamwork of Mental Health Officers (MHOs) and WellStone professionals, our community is better equipped to successfully assist the mental health crises that our area experiences every day.
As stated in the brochure, approximately 40% of individuals living with a mental illness will be arrested at least once in their lifetime. With this being said, it is necessary that law enforcement find more efficient methods to serve that population, in not only techniques for responding, but in hopes to avoid time in prison. The piece lists two primary goals of the program:
- Provide supportive measures and an “on-the job-tool” that can be used by law enforcement personnel to enhance and maintain officer, consumer, and public safety and
- Provide intervention strategies and alternatives to assist in directing individuals with mental illness to the appropriate healthcare systems during crisis contacts and reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system.
“This entire process and system depends heavily on community collaborations and efforts,” WellStone’s CEO Jeremy Blair comments. “We are very fortunate to reside in such a community as Huntsville that encompasses leaders on a local and state level who care so genuinely about the needs of the people. That kind of initiative is crucial for the success and overall well-being for our city and HPD has undoubtedly been a monumental contributor in supplying the necessary actions to better improve the mental health needs of our community.”
In March 2020, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill (HB 326) that includes an increase of mandatory CIT hours for all officers. Under the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and the Training Commission, officers are now required to receive 16 hours of training compared to the previous 8-hour requirement. We appreciate Representative Rex Reynolds in his sponsorship of this bill.
WellStone looks forward to the continued partnership with the Huntsville Police Department, the expansion of knowledge of CIT in the community and the progression of mental health awareness in North Alabama.
View the brochure here.
About Wellstone Inc.: WellStone Inc. is a non-profit community organization that provides mental health and substance abuse services supporting the integrated health of the whole person. WellStone operates 12 facilities throughout North Alabama and Cullman. WellStone is certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health. WellStone offers programs for children, adolescents, adults, substance abuse, school-based outreach, community services and more. For more information, visit www.wellstone.com. Additional media inquiries can be directed to the Communications Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (256) 705-6301.