OK Agencies Stress Need For More Crisis Intervention Officers

Wednesday, April 30th 2014, 6:20 pm
By: News 9

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Oklahoma has been working to raise awareness among law enforcement agencies about crisis intervention training going on throughout the next several months.

Many agencies around the metro have several C.I.T. officers on the force already but NAMI is trying to get more agencies to sign up. These trained officers and people who have come in contact with them say the training is a big help in dealing with people suffering from mental health issues.

"I'm diagnosed as a schizophrenia," explained Kyle Williams. "I've been on and off meds for a while and it seems if I go off meds for a while I lose touch with reality."

Williams knows just how important Crisis Intervention Team officers can be. One of Edmond's officers actually helped convince Williams he needed treatment. Williams was being forced by a court order to get that help.

"He was aware that I had an illness so I could see that he was a little bit more compassionate that he wasn't trying to rush and take me off. I didn't want to go," explained Williams.

Williams credits the officer with changing the course of his life. The officer took the time and used his training to break down the walls Williams had up, eventually getting Williams treatment.

"Today, like I mean I feel completely like normal," said Williams.

Edmond Police have several C.I.T. officer in the department. School Resource Officer Bervis Littles is one of them. He has been trained in C.I.T. and now trains other officers.

"I'm able to recognize those signs and from there perform and evaluation on that person to see if they meet one of those three criteria and then from there I would take them to get them some help," explained Littles.

"I'm not there to just put handcuffs on them and take them to jail, throw them in jail for something that they've done, that I'm actually there to help them."

One major issue that C.I.T. officers and mental health professionals face is the lack of treatment facilities in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told News 9 they would be lucky if they did not see cuts to their budget next year.