This week, officers of the RCPD (along with personnel from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, other surrounding law enforcement agencies, and mental health professionals) will be participating in Crisis Intervention Team training. The CIT concept is designed to give law enforcement officers the skills necessary to de-escalate situations involving persons afflicted by mental illness.
During the five-day CIT course, officers will cover a variety of topics focused on helping serve individuals with mental illness. Those topics include:
- Understanding mental illness and its various forms
- Suicide prevention
- De-escalation practices
- Community resources that offer services to those with mental illness
- The RCPD utilizes community actors to portray people in crisis. Officers practice their communication skills on these actors.
The RCPD and PCSO began researching CIT training in 2009. Both agencies implemented the training in 2011 and were the first agencies in the State of South Dakota to do so. Over 100 members of the RCPD and PCSO are trained in CIT, and several serve as CIT instructors to new recruits at the State Police Academy in Pierre.
“Since training our officers in CIT, that knowledge has become an invaluable resource out in the field,” says Lt. John Olson, CIT Instructor for the RCPD. “Our personnel work with individuals afflicted by mental illness on a daily basis, and this training helps our officers deliver the most courteous, efficient, and professional service to those members of our community.”