TWIN FALLS, Idaho — This week, law enforcement agencies across the Magic Valley are attending a 40 hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.
The goal of CIT training is to unite community leaders in reducing the risk of injury or death during emergency interactions between police officers and individuals with mental illness. This specialized curriculum also aims to help those afflicted with mental illness get the help they need.
"When people are in crisis they are heightened, they’re anxious, they’re scared, they’re worried. Law enforcement officers are being trained... to not be reactionary and instead help calm them down so they can get to the point where they can find a workable solution, something that will actually help," said Val Seeley, clinician with the Department of Health and Welfare.
According to research funded by the National Science Foundation, programs such as CIT reduce arrests of people with mental illness while increasing their likelihood of receiving mental health services.
"It helps promote officer safety, it helps promote citizen safety, it gets people the help that they need and it helps keep people out of jail that don’t belong there," said Seeley.
This training is made possible by community partnerships.
Participating agencies include the Twin Falls Police Department, Twin Falls Sheriff's Office, Jerome Police Department-Idaho, Jerome County Sheriff’s Office, Heyburn Police Department, Bellevue Marshall’s Office, Hailey Police Department, St Luke’s Security, Magic Valley Paramedics and Twin Falls County Misdemeanor Probation.
"Ultimately, what we want is the community to have trust in us, to trust that we can come out help them, help anybody in crisis or in a situation where they are having a hard time," said Justin Clark, Patrol Officer for the Twin Falls Police Department.
Local community resources agencies work with include the Crisis Center and the Department of Health and Welfare’s Mobile Crisis Response Team.
"Officers in this community have really responded well. The police chief, the sheriff… they are all highly motivated and very supportive of the CIT program," said Seeley.
You can find more information on CIT and additional resources here.
If you or someone you know needs help, the crisis text line is available by texting CNQR at 741741. There is also the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline which can be reached at 800-273-8255.