Chicago-area police officers are increasingly being called upon to interact with people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. But experts say those interactions with mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals can lead to injuries or death, if a police officer is insufficiently trained.
NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga spent three months researching the issue, interviewing experts, and surveying more than 300 law enforcement agencies to learn how officers train to handle these situations.
It’s important to note that most Illinois police officers now receive training in areas of mental health awareness, including behavioral threat assessments, addiction, mental first aid, developmental disabilities and treatment resources. And since 2003, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) has provided state-certified Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to law enforcement officers throughout the state. The one-week (40 hours) CIT block of courses provides what is universally considered to be the most intensive training on dealing with individuals who have a mental illness or behavioral disability.
But CIT training sessions fill up fast and can be costly in time, according to multiple police chiefs.
To find out if your local police department has CIT-certified officers to better handle residents experiencing a mental health crisis, explore the maps below: