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KCK police work to build successful interactions with people dealing with mental illness

Posted at 5:29 PM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 18:49:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Police in Kansas City, Kan. have joined the One Mind Campaign to improve how officers respond to calls involving mental illness.

“It impacts so many families in our city and across this country - everybody should be paying attention to it,” said KCK Police Chief Terry Zeigler. 

According to NAMINAMI, mental illness impacts one in five adults nationwide every year.

“This isn't just something that only affects a small portion of the population,” Zeigler said. “It is widespread.”

That’s why KCK Police took the pledge, to improve interactions between officers and those people dealing with mental illness.

“Mental health touches so many families,” Zeigler said. “And if there's something that law enforcement can do to help with that can help improve lives and you know, I just think we need to get on board with that.”

Many of the repeat calls that officers respond to come from those with a mental health issue.

“Mental health issues, I don't think they're going to go away, and throwing people in jail, incarcerating them, it's not an option,” Zeigler said. 

Nearly 80 percent of KCK officers have gone through Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.

“They get a call and they run across an individual who's in a mental crisis, the officers will intervene to do what they can to help stabilize the situation,” Zeigler said. 

Officers forward that information to the CIT officer and the full time co-responder. 

The department is teaming up with mental health organizations to implement mental health first-aid training when responding. 

So far, 380 police agencies nationwide have taken the One Mind Campaign pledge.