- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Four Montgomery residents will be given training sessions to help law enforcement identify signs of mental illness.

Two Baptist Health employees, a Montgomery police officer and an officer from Montgomery County’s Sheriff’s Office will take part in the Crisis Intervention Training program in Minneapolis next week, the Montgomery Advertiser (https://on.mgmadv.com/2efIkfR) reported. The hope is to help officers recognize signs of mental illness and provide techniques to deescalate possible dangerous situations.

The candidates are Montgomery Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Cedric Leonard; Montgomery police Sgt. Gerald Killough; along with Baptist Health employees Donald Henry and Mike Darden.

“We have been able to amass funding and four individuals have been identified to take (CIT), which is the first line of training that law enforcement need to prepare them to work particularly with people with mental challenges out in society,” said Lynn Beshear, executive director of Envision 2020.

Envision 2020 began to address challenges to mental health care access in 2013.

According to date, 15 percent of inmates in Montgomery’s city and county jail have serious mental illness. That’s about 90 inmates per day.

After their release, Beshear said about 65 percent will be re-incarcerated.

Participants will receive a certificate as CIT instructors. After certification, they will train Montgomery and the River Region’s law enforcement officers and other related person in crisis intervention.

The program was first developed in Memphis, Tennessee.

Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham called the program “very important.”

“I’ve been pushing to get personnel CIT-trained, so that hopefully we can get people trained in the police academy,” Cunningham said. “We deal with this on a daily basis. My deputies touch mental patients. We move about 700 a year, just moving them from different homes and hospitals, not to mention the ones we encounter on the street.”


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