Officers receive training for mental illness calls

Nearly three dozen law enforcement officers from throughout the region spent this week getting trained in Winchester how to work with situations involving people with mental illnesses.

NAMI Winchester helped organize the 40-hour crisis intervention team training session at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Winchester this week, NAMI Winchester member Brenda Harrington said. The legislation for the training was approved by the Kentucky legislature in 2006, she said, and the training sessions have occurred state-wide since then.

According to information from NAMI, crisis intervention teams connect law enforcement with mental health providers, hospital staff and those with relatives with mental illnesses. The classes this week train officers how to respond to calls involving those with mental illnesses.

Harrington said this was the first time the training was offered in Winchester and it attracted officers from a number of agencies including the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and departments in Lexington, Berea, Richmond, Georgetown, Boyle County, Stanton and the University of Kentucky.

“We’ve had officers that have gone elsewhere to take the training,” Harrington said.

The CIT program started in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1988 and has led to similar programs in 2,800 communities in 45 states, according to NAMI information.

“It’s been well supported by Clark County,” Harrington said.