Local and surrounding area law enforcement officers are officially part of the East Mississippi Crisis Intervention Team.
“CIT Program is basically a collaboration between law enforcement, our local mental health providers, and advocates,” said Capt. Wade Johnson, who is with the East Mississippi Crisis Intervention Team Task Force.
These law enforcement graduates went through forty hours of training in areas such as clinical behavior diagnoses, mental health medication, and verbal de-escalation strategies.
“What we’ve seen since we’ve been through the training is law enforcement officers are diverting more and more mentally ill from the jail to the proper care that they need,’ said Capt. Johnson.
Seventeen officers graduated in this class, with seven of them being located here in Lauderdale county from the Meridian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s important for Meridian people because we want to be that community that helps. It’s not all about the beating up—its all about helping the community and makings sure the people we protect and serve are safe and getting the help they need,” said Patrol Officer First Class Royric Benamon with MPD.
This program is used in 2,700 communities nation-wide and was originally started in Memphis, TN in the 1980’s.