On Friday, September 30, 2016, three Winchester Police Officers graduated from Crisis Intervention Training with the Northwestern Community Services Board Team. The 40-hour class focuses on mental health training and de-escalation techniques, so officers will be better equipped to respond to calls involving people in mental health crises, or crises in general.
15 people graduated from the class, including Winchester Police Cpl. Justin Schumer, Officer Travis Medina, and Officer Michael Upham. The 5-day training included information on dealing with children in crisis, suicide prevention, medications, and role playing. There was a specific focus on dealing with the elderly and veterans – with the goal of de-escalating a situation and directing a person to services.
Crisis Intervention is a priority for the Winchester Police Department. To date, 24 officers, approximately one-third of the force, is certified in Crisis Intervention Training. Several officers are also trained as CIT instructors.
“Over the years, the Department has made it a priority to build our Crisis Intervention Team. We see the benefits, and we are investing in this model,” said Winchester Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher. “It’s a form of community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospitals, and individuals with mental illness, to improve responses to people in crisis.”
Benefits of CIT, include:
- Providing officers with more tools to do their jobs safely and effectively.
- It improves officer safety, often resulting in fewer injuries during mental health calls.
- Results in less jail time and saves taxpayer money – it helps keep people with mental illness out of jail and get them into treatment, where they are more likely to get on the road to recovery.
The training is more critical now than ever. On average, the Winchester Police Department responds to one mental health call a day. WPD is seeing an increase in the number of Emergency Custody Orders (ECO) or Temporary Detention Orders (TDO). ECO’s are issued by a magistrate and require an individual to be evaluated at the hospital. After the evaluation, if deemed necessary, a certified professional can request a TDO, which means they must be committed into a mental health facility.
Over the last year (9/30/15 – 9/30/16), Officers responded to 378 mental health calls and served 144 TDO’s and ECO’s. The prior year (9/30/14 – 9/29/15), Officers responded to 321 mental health calls and served 105 TDO’s and ECO’s.
Winchester Police also have a unique partnership with Northwestern Community Services. Det. Lisa Hyde and Donna Trillio, with Northwestern, provide community based services each week. The duo meets and average of 8-10 clients each week, to build relationships and prevent future crises. The objective of their visits is to divert individuals from the criminal justice system, and connect them with resources to address their physical, basic, and mental health needs