Visalia P.D. Mental Health Training

February 5, 2009 11:57:44 PM PST
Police officers in the South Valley are stepping up after cut backs in mental health services.Officers here at the Visalia Police Department are learning new skills to deal with crisis calls from people struggling during today's economy. Officers are hoping they can step up at a time when a lot of mental health services are being cut.

13 officers at the Visalia Department are now a certified "C.I.T" ... "Crisis Intervention Team" - Sgt. Jim Carr says the officers are now better equipped to respond mental health or other crisis situations that come up nearly every day.

Sgt. Jim Carr said, "Any of us at any time can have a moment of crisis or feel suicidal because of a loss of a loved one or a loss of a job economics is a big one right now"

Tulare County Mental Health Officials say they're seeing more patients during the current economic downtown.

Tim Inouye said, "Losing the place they're at their apartment not so much homes but usually rental places not being able to work losing their jobs."

But the slowing economy and state budget crisis has also caused officials to shut down two county-run clinics and other mental health services that were vital to many people. This means less resources during a growing need. Mental Health Officials hope C.I.T officers can help fill the void. Sgt. Carr says this specialized C.I.T training gives the officers new skills they aren't taught in the academy.

"And its specifically for crisis it's how to deal with somebody in crisis how to talk to somebody in crisis how to do de-escalation techniques," said Sgt. Carr.

Carr says, with the right training, an officer's help could save lives during a mental health crisis.

"If we determine that they're a danger to themselves or others then we will either transport them ourselves or we'll call an ambulance and we do a hold on them so they have to be seen by a mental health professional before they're released," said Sgt. Carr.

Officers met with mental health officials to talk more about the needs of their patients and how better to evaluate people in crisis--whatever state the economy is in.

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