HATTIESBURG, MS. - Fifteen officers from surrounding law enforcement agencies graduated from the 3rd Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) class with the Jones County Sheriff's Department and Pine Belt Mental Health Friday at HPD's Training Academy.
Major Jamie Tedford with the Jones County Sheriff's Department said, “Anyone that is in a crisis that is basically what this training does it gives them knowledge in training."
He continued, "To help them stay safer, as well as help them understand what somebody with a mental crisis is going through.”
Major Tedford said the class is 40 hours worth of training. Authorities said they never know what kind of situation they may encounter and receiving the CIT class is beneficial.
“Really it just really focuses on our communication skills and to be able to personalize with people in different ways who might be going through a crisis" said graduate Corporal Josh Rivera with Forrest General Hospital's Department of Public Safety.
HPD's Lieutenant (Lt.) Chris Johnson said, “It gives us a better direction to who to contact."
Lt. Johnson added, "For many many years, we had the resources here within the city, now the CIT which is a team, of not only police officers, but with mental agencies help us out with those suspects when we come into contact with.”
“Having a solution whenever you get there on the scene, or having a contact with what to do with someone who does have a problem that’s been the big thing with law enforcement in the past" said Major Tedford.
Pine Belt Mental Health officials help educate officers in the CIT class. “The main goal is to keep people with mental illness out of jail if they do not have to go to jail" said Brent Hurley with the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Crisis Response Division.
"If they are acting erratically and doing things that are endanger to the public...if we can get law enforcement officers to be trained to transport them into a mental health facility rather than a jail" said Hurley.
He added, "Then they get the treatment they need, rather than going to a correctional facility."
The guest speaker for the event was the Honorable Judge Keith Starrett of the United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi.
The next CIT Training will be in September.