JONES COUNTY, Miss. - Members of the Jones County Sheriff's Department took the day off Friday to learn about something that may be able to help various people in their community.
Jamie Tedford, Jones County Sheriff’s Department major said, "This program was actually designed for officers as well as mental health patients... and got away from taking individuals with mental health problems and putting them in jail when they really need mental help."
Tedford said the Jones County Sheriff's Department used to send deputies to Lauderdale for Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, but as of now, his department is the second law enforcement agency in the state to provide this sort of training.
"We have nine deputies who are certified at this time. And now we're going to be able to use our facility here at Jones County Sheriff's Department Training Center to train other officers from around this area and region, said Tedford."
Receiving CIT training is not just for law enforcement officers, but it's also for health care professionals.
Dr. Rita Porter, Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources director of adult services said, "We also are working toward determining an appropriate system and communication strategy between the law enforcement officers and the mental health system, so that there can be a warm hand-off of the consumer from the law enforcement officer to the mental health provider."
CIT trained law enforcement officers have the skills to not only talk to suspects, but are also able to differentiate and talk to possible mental ill suspects.
University of Memphis professor, Randolph Dupont said, "The research evidence is very exciting about the outcome of this kind of work. It shows that officers are able to reduce the number of arrests to those who have mental illness and being able to reduce their own injury rates and also are able to reduce the use of force, so it's very exciting to do this. And it brings people where they need to be, which is in the treatment system and getting help."
Tedford said the CIT program meets monthly and if you want to receive CIT training, you can contact the Jones County Sheriff's Department.