Spokane Police Department to help people affected by mental illness with “One Mind Campaign” pledge

SPOKANE, WASH. - On July 3rd the Spokane Police Department announced its completion of the "One Mind Campaign". It was a pledge the department took a year ago to improve how the department responds to citizens experiencing a mental health crisis.

The police department took the 4-part pledge, which was created by the international association of chiefs of police. They had to set up a partnership with a mental health organization, make a plan for how officers deal with someone going through a mental health crisis,  train officers and staff in mental health first aid and put them crisis intervention training.

Over the years, the job has changed. Officer John O'Brien says it's become clear. These are necessary elements for their daily duties as a police officer.

"We are coming across more people suffering from mental illness. Some of them use illegal drugs as well at the same time. So we have to wear many hats when we encounter them. By no means are we psychologist or psychiatrists but we're having to understand what they're suffering from and what they're experiencing," said O'Brien

In any given month Spokane police say they respond to more than 500 calls for services meaning requests to check on people, helping someone who is suicidal, or having a mental health crisis. On average, officers say they take almost 90 people to the hospital for mental health issues every month.

Instead of taking them to jail part of the partnership with Frontier Behavioral Health through the pledge campaign means officers can steer people into a program that can help them.

When it comes to their new crisis intervention training officers, have learned to how to deescalate a tense situation "We hope that these programs will give officers new tools and new techniques to help deescalate situations. Therefore bringing the community to a safer location and helping the people suffering from the mental illness into a safer outcome," added O'Brien.

The department requires that every officer to complete mandatory 40-hour of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which equips officers with the best techniques for de-escalating interactions involving people in crisis.

According to the release, officers also participate in Enhanced Crisis Intervention Training (ECIT) which prepares officers with communication skills they can use in any situation they're in. Currently, 22 officers and the majority of senior staff for the department have completed the ECIT training.

For more information about the One Mind Campaign, please visit the IACP’s website:http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign