How some area officers are training for calls involving the mentally ill

Butler Twp. Police and other local officers are using a training program to better help respond to calls involving people with mental health issues.

The program “improves officer safety and helps minimize the amount of time officers spend on mental-disturbance calls,” said Butler Twp. Police Chief John Porter. “And it may save money by diverting mentally ill people from jail into appropriate mental health treatment.”

The Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services offers a free Crime Intervention Team Program for area police officers.

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The program teaches officers specific communication strategies and how to identify mental health resources. It also gives officers a way to de-escalate a situation with skills and scenario-based training.

Montgomery County, dealing with a significant opioid crisis, also has seen an increase of untreated persons with mental illness, which has led to more altercations between mentally ill individuals and law enforcement, according to the Butler Twp. officials.

The training that Butler Twp. and other local law enforcement agencies are receiving allows officers to talk individuals down and take them to local hospitals for mental health evaluations, instead of taking them to the county jail.

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Butler Twp. has sent 13 of its 18 officers to complete the training. The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Ohio awarded the township a $1,000 grant to offset the overtime pay for the weeklong training.

If you would like more information on the training police township officers are getting, contact Porter at 937-898-6735.

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