HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Huntsville Police Department began crisis intervention training in 2017 when they recognized they were getting several calls related to mental health.
Deputy Chief DeWayne McCarver said, "we realized we really needed to do better with this. So we partnered with CIT International and began a program called the Crisis Intervention Training Program. We had to get all of the stakeholders in our community together, create a collaborative environment where our officers understand those resources, those resources out there understood each other."
CIT also includes recognizing different types of mental health disorders.
Officers coming through the academy receive a 16 hour training and every month there's a course to bring the current officers up to speed.
According to McCarver, there are currently 190 City of Huntsville Officers trained in crisis intervention and 94 officers who are trained at the 40 hour level.
Last year, WellStone Behavioral Health partnered with the City of Huntsville to create two co-responder positions and a federal grant funded two more.
This position partners a mental health worker with a police officer to respond to calls dealing with a mental health crisis.
"If we get a call that we believe right out of the gate, the nature of that call probably involves somebody in a mental health crisis… We start that car with that mental health responder immediately," McCarver said.
The CEO of WellStone, Jeremy Blair, added, "we have been excited about the corresponding program. Honestly, it has exceeded our expectations."
The Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council will be hosting an in-depth presentation about this training on Tuesday, August 9th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at House of Hope and Restoration Church. Jonathan Rossow, the Chair of HPCAC said they welcome the community to come with questions.
"It's an opportunity to build relationships with the police officers that serve our community and to ask questions and get answers right there on the spot," Rossow said.