Cleveland police will begin training this summer on new policies for handling calls with people suffering a mental health crisis. A federal judge has approved the reforms that are part of the city’s agreement with the Justice Department.
The new policies include creating a team of specially trained officers to deal with the mentally ill as well as more basic training for all officers. The training focuses on de-escalation and minimal use of force, and on getting people into treatment instead of jail. Bill Denihan is executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County. He helped develop the new policies, including better ways for officers to interact with the mentally ill.
“How can we resolve it, how can I help you, and lets work this out together. So, establish a relationship in which the officer is sympathetic and has some empathy for the individual and relates that they’re in the same boat, lets work this out together.”
Some changes have already been implemented. All of the new practices will officially be in place early next year.