As police forces across the country re-evaluate their practices regarding encounters with people with mental health problems, Minneapolis authorities plan to pair officers with mental health specialists on emergency calls involving such problems. Officials hope the tactic, already in use by departments in Houston, Los Angeles and Madison, Wis., will lead to more peaceful resolutions and decrease the likelihood of jail time — or physical encounters.
While the details of the trial program are still being worked out, officials say it will be launched early next year.
More than half the department’s roughly 829 officers have completed the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) course teaching them ways to avoid using force to defuse potentially violent encounters, police officials say. The other half are expected to finish by the end of the year.
But experts argue that a specialist is better equipped to recognize the telltale signs of someone with a mental disorder, whose behavior even a trained officer may interpret as uncooperative and potentially threatening.
In her budget address last month, Mayor Betsy Hodges pledged to set aside $200,000 for pilot program, the Star-Tribune reports.