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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crisis Intervention Team Making A Difference In Outcome Of Crisis Situations

The Bucks County Crisis Intervention Team is designed to improve police interactions with people with mental and emotional illnesses, substance abuse and related conditions.

There are a lot of instances that, just years ago, would have ended with someone with a mental disorder handcuffed and tossed into a jail cell. Or seriously injured, maybe dead.

Those instances now often end with police finding ways to help people. Or a safe interaction in which no one - suspect or police - gets hurt.

It's all part of the Bucks County Crisis Intervention Team, and it's why the American Red Cross is calling these first responders one of Bucks County's Real Heroes, awarding the team with the Community Partner Hero award.

The team joins other men and women from our area who will be honored during a breakfast Thursday at the Belle Voir Manor in Bensalem.

A jail diversion program, the Crisis Intervention Team is designed to improve police interactions with people with mental and emotional illnesses, substance abuse and related conditions.

Officers are trained to recognize psychiatric distress and learn how to deflate a crisis. They also help link people with treatment. The result, law enforcement officials say, is one with fewer arrests and use of force, fewer injuries and deaths, and generally improved safety.

The program, modeled after one started in Memphis about two decades ago, helps police understand various symptoms and how they affect someone's behavior and judgment, along with de-escalation techniques. They also help cops in regards to interactions with military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or someone looking to die from suicide-by-cop. More...

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