Provided by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office:
Nineteen police officers from departments throughout Bucks County recently joined the swelling ranks of law enforcement personnel trained in de-escalating encounters spurred by mental health crises.
Officers from Central Bucks Regional, Middletown Township, Bristol Township, Warwick Township, Plumstead Township, Newtown Township, Upper Southampton Township and Northampton Township police departments on Friday marked the completion of their training with the county’s Crisis Intervention Team after 40 hours of rigorous training.
The program, launched in 2008 and has since trained 518 people, including 420 law enforcement officers with the objective of reducing use of force, injuries and arrests when a person’s behavior is being influenced by mental illness, and to eliminate stigma around such illnesses.
For the last several years, the trainings have been held twice a year. But to handle increased interest and participation in the program, Bucks County has added a third class for 2019, set to begin in January. Bucks County’s Board of Commissioners also have pledged increased financial support for the program.
“My goal is to have every police officer in Bucks County CIT certified and today we’re 19 officers closer to that goal,” said Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub. “Thank you to all the officers and their departments for their dedication to this cause, and for the hours and effort spent putting this powerful tool in the hands of our law enforcement community.”
As an interim goal, Weintraub told Friday’s graduates, he aims to see one CIT-trained officer on duty during every shift.
“Not every incident must or even should result in an arrest,” he said.