OAKLAND (KCBS) — The first Oakland police officers to undergo specialized training on how to de-escalate potentially violent situations with the mentally ill graduated from the program this week.
The Crisis Intervention Training program teaches law enforcement how to recognize mental health issues, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:
Five officers from Oakland, two from Bay Area Rapid Transit and several from other Alameda County agencies completed the 38-hour CIT crash course.
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the program started in Tennessee more than 20 years ago and has become known as the Memphis model.
“It is a model that teaches police organizations how to look at residents who are having mental issues, especially residents that may have knives and guns and may be off their medication,” said Batts.
Statistics show seven to 10 percent of police contact nationwide involves a mental health issue.
The numbers are particularly high in Oakland, where in 2009 the department received more than 5,600 calls involving mental health emergencies.
“We do have a lot of mentally ill in Alameda County because we have resources here. We come in contact with them on a daily basis,” Batts added.
An independent auditor recommended the training for BART officers following the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant.
Just over 10 percent of BART’s force is now CIT trained.
The county is offering the class every month.
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