PADUCAH, KY – This week, Four Rivers Behavioral Health is hosting training for Kentucky law enforcement officers in Crisis Intervention as it relates to encounters with those who have mental health issues.
Four Rivers Behavioral Health has hosted the training for the western Kentucky region for nearly 10 years. “Training law enforcement to better deal with someone who has a mental health issue helps ensure they get needed treatment and does not necessarily become incarcerated. We believe it is part of our mission to help provide this important training,” said Terry Hudspeth, Chief Executive Officer of Four Rivers Behavioral Health.
Crisis Intervention Training helps to develop more effective interactions among law enforcement, mental health care providers, individuals with mental illness, their families and the community as a whole. The training of law enforcement officers builds awareness of mental health issues through education and outreach.
Denise Spratt, Executive Director of the Kentucky CIT Program said, “What is so unique about our efforts is that long after the training has been completed, the Kentucky CIT Program maintains contact with local law enforcement and mental health professionals and encourages those groups to continue the conversation.”
To keep CIT in the foreground, Four Rivers Behavioral Health maintains a Crisis Intervention Team Council for the region. The Council meets regularly and works closely with law enforcement and the agency’s own crisis unit to keep lines of communication open.
Joey Adams, Chairman of the local CIT Council said, “Four Rivers Behavioral Health is such a integral partner in the training for this region. Because the agency also hosts the training and maintains the local Council, law enforcement officers and staff at Four Rivers Behavioral Health really get to know each other during the week. That makes it so much easier to “make that call” when you need to, because you are calling someone you already know.”
Spratt began her career in law enforcement with the Jefferson County Police Department in 1984. She continued her career with the Louisville Metro Police Department until her retirement in 2007.
Spratt was a police officer for 23 years, 10 of which were spent in patrol. She was a homicide detective for seven years and spent two years in internal affairs as an investigator. In addition, Spratt worked with the hostage negotiation team and was a negotiator for 19 years, eventually becoming commander of that team.
It was during this time, that Spratt grew to recognize the need for training officers to deal with people who have mental health concerns.
The Kentucky CIT Program began in Louisville in 2001. Since then, there have been over 2,000 law enforcement officers trained in the CIT model of verbal de-escalation, active listening skills and non-lethal weapons use. The use of the CIT program has decreased the number of injuries to law enforcement officers and the public in cases where someone with a mental health issue came in contact with law enforcement. But, perhaps more important, has been the marked increase in the number of those encountering law enforcement receiving the treatment they need for their mental illness.
Crisis Intervention Training has proven to be a “best practice” model for jail diversion of people with mental illness. In 2007, a grant was obtained from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services that enabled this life-saving program to be introduced to law enforcement officers in communities all across the Commonwealth. Since that time, over 25 classes have been taught providing instruction to 700+ officers from every region of the state.
Currently celebrating its fiftieth year, Four Rivers Behavioral Health is a private, not-for-profit agency that provides comprehensive mental health, substance abuse and developmental/intellectual disability services to clients in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, McCracken, and Marshall Counties.