How Detroit police is using training to help with mental health issues

DETROIT – Local police agencies are working to help the community differentiate between criminal activity and behavioral disorders.

The Detroit Police Department receives all kinds of calls for help and works to help those who need it most now and in the future.

Read: Detroit Officials Receive Training How To Recognize When Someone Is Having A Mental Illness

“You are asking for help. Whatever is on your mind, tell them to do what they do, ”said Marcus Harris II of the Detroit Police Department.

Harris saw everything on patrol. Recently, a call for help was issued after motorists spotted a person walking dangerously in and out of traffic.

“You come to the crime scene. You come to the place and pull the person aside and you have a conversation with them, ”Harris said. “Be understanding. Be passionate because you don’t understand what’s going on in your head.”


The call for help does not end there. Harris can then use his training to identify if the person is experiencing a mental crisis. He is known for offering resources where the person can get the attention they need.

“We can be out here to de-escalate the situation, give the person the right help, and change the dynamics of policing,” Harris said.

It is a kind of police reaction that is part of the crisis intervention training.

“This training is about connecting behavioral health professionals with law enforcement,” said Andrea Smith of the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network.

The Detroit Police Department has been in partnership with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network since 2019. Their goal is to be able to respond to the needs of the community.


“They are focusing on verbal de-escalation to reduce the incidence of violence related to officials,” said Smith.

The training focuses on identifying mental health issues like depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, hallucinations, and more. The officers spend 40 hours in class learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness.

“When you can understand your own trauma, you can engage with other people in the community. You’re looking at them through a trauma-informed lens, ”said Smith. “You’re not saying, ‘What’s the matter with this person? They say, “I know something happened to this person. Let me change my approach. ‘”

Captain Tonya Leonard-Gilbert is the Head of Training for the Detroit Police Department. She saw how crisis intervention training works.

“I’m sure everyone in their family has someone with a mental illness, so I’m delighted that we are approaching it this way,” said Leonard-Gilbert. “If we hire a member who is having a mental crisis, we can provide services. We are able to set up a prison diversion or a hospital diversion and actually get them to the providers who need them in the hopes that they will get the resources and support they need so that they don’t call the emergency number in a crisis Have to call 911. “


Since his 2020 crisis training, Harris has seen the positive impact this type of policing has on the community. He joined the CIT team as an instructor and advocated for mental health awareness. He wants everyone to know that help is available and that the police are there to fill that void.

“You are not alone. You are not alone at all, ”said Harris. “I said the training teaches people to be compassionate and caring and to know that we are here to help you.”

More: Detroit News

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