Law enforcement officers from eight San Francisco Bay area agencies graduated yesterday as some of California’s first Crisis Intervention Team specialists, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The 38-hour seminar is a crash course in mental health care designed to provide law enforcement with the skills and resources to respond more effectively to people with a wide range of problems.
In 2009, the Oakland Police Department got 5,600 calls for service that involved a situation with a mental health component. The department calls these 5150s, and it acknowledges that its officers are generally underprepared to handle the complexity and scope of the problems. Nationwide, it’s estimated that 7 to 10 percent of all police contact involved some mental health angle. Many officers welcomed the class and shared their own frustrations. When clinician Lindsay Duckles spoke about how to recognize sociopathic behavior, one officer spoke up. “That’s our problem in Oakland,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got with a lot of these kids.”