UIC Police join One Mind Campaign
The campaign, launched by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, asks police departments to implement four practices:
- establish a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with a community mental health organization
- develop a model policy to implement on police response to people affected by mental illness
- train officers and some staff members in Mental Health First Aid
- provide Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to at least 20 percent of its members
UIC Chief of Police Kevin Booker said the additional training helps officers to better serve their community.
“After looking at the requirements of the campaign, these are just additional tools we can use to accomplish our goal of being prepared to handle any situation we may encounter in our community,” Booker said.
Proper training on mental illness is crucial for a university police force, he said.
“Seventy-five percent of lifetime mental health issues begin before the age of 24,” Booker said. “So, with the population we have with the university, we’re dealing with those issues. And as you see the resources deteriorating [in the surrounding areas], this community is in need,” Booker said.
The UIC Police Department is on its way to exceeding the requirements of the campaign. Officers are working with the UIC Counseling Center to establish an ongoing relationship; they have written policy addressing their response for dealing with people with mental illness; almost all officers are trained and certified in mental health aid; and they are striving toward having all officers receive crisis intervention team (CIT) training.
“We deal with people with mental illness pretty frequently,” UIC Police Lt. Jason Huertas said. “Statistics show that more and more police officers are becoming the initial people dealing with people with mental illness.”
Booker notices the effects of the campaign so far.
“I’ve been here for a little over three years, and it’s been hugely beneficial,” he said. “We can gauge that by the number of involuntary and voluntary referrals for mental health evaluations.”