Laurel Police Officers take CIT training classes

LAUREL, Miss. - The Laurel Police Department is having its Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training with Pine Belt Mental Health, which will enable officers to be state certified.

Training officer, Cpt. William Sparrow said, "What this program does is it allows our officers to recognize a mental health issue and separate it from a crime if possible. We're trying to direct mentally ill consumers from the criminal justice system to get them the help that they need."

Officers are taught de-escalation methods that will help a mentally ill person get the help they need, instead of throwing them in jail.

Dr. Rita Porter, director of Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources said, "We've been working with the Laurel Police Department and the Jones County Sheriff's Department for the past year and we've seen the number of these incidents decrease dramatically. We've also seen the number of people who are involuntarily committed to the state hospital decrease dramatically. So what we're hoping is that people are being diverted into treatment, which is the goal of the program."

Porter also said CIT officers will wear a pin that will identify them as a CIT officer, and hopes that will help people feel more comfortable around them.

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