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KCPD Crisis Intervention Team provides alternative to jail for mentally ill

Posted: 11:37 PM, Jul 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-27 15:12:28-04
KCPD CIT.jpg
KCPD CIT mental health.jpg

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s nowhere to go but up for Cici.

She once battled drug addiction, hit rock bottom and sat with 41 Action News to share her story.

“I suffer from schizophrenia and bi-polar, and I’m on medication for that," Cici said. "Mental health is a very big problem. Each of us has our own story as to why we become homeless.”

The hope is that people like Cici can now share a story of redemption.

Greg Parr is executive director of Neighbor 2 Neighbor. It’s a non-profit that offers food, clothing and treatment for mental health.

Parr said the options for drug and mental health treatment aren’t as plentiful as they once were.

Kansas City, Missouri, police officer Aric Anderson agreed: “Twenty years ago, I had options, like three different detox units. It’s sad I’ve got to fish around for a place for someone to go when they’re willing to go to treatment.”

Realizing fewer places for mental health treatment existed despite more calls for service, KCPD has put together a team to help. It’s led by Anderson.

“When I was a street officer, I got tired of going to the same place over and over again,” said Anderson, who believes jail is more of a massive de facto mental health facility, especially in Missouri.

The goal of his Crisis Intervention Unit is to de-escalate crisis calls, divert them from the criminal justice system and connect them with behavioral health resources.

Law enforcement leaders said jailing people with mental health issues doesn’t solve the problem, but establishing trust in important in making this new solution work.

“It’s basically getting them comfortable with being able to talk to an officer,” Anderson said, "instead of going deeper into crisis.”

Resources provided by the Crisis Intervention Unit have helped dozens of people like Cici turn their lives around.

“It took a point of a step to call Restart Inc,” Cici said.

Officers are now working to do the same for others.

To contact the KCPD Crisis Intervention Officers, call 816-581-0696 or email CIT@KCPD.org. If you need immediate help, call 911 or the Crisis Line at 1-888-279-8188.

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