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Westminster Police Recognized for Proactive Efforts inResponding to Persons Affected By Mental Illness
Westminster, Maryland – The Westminster Police Department is pleased to announcethat they have completed a pledge they took in June 2017 to further enhance their responseto those suffering from mental illness in their community. The pledge is part of an initiativecalled the One Mind Campaign started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police(IACP), a professional association of law enforcement executives that provides training andtechnical assistance. To join the One Mind Campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledgeto implement four promising practices to ensure successful interactions between policeofficers and persons affected by mental illness.
In the law enforcement community, mental illness has become a common focus, with somedepartments estimating that as many as 20% of their calls for service are related to mentalhealth issues in some way. Chief Jeff Spaulding made the decision to join the One MindCampaign because of the prevalence of these calls in the City and the need to ensure thatofficers are handling them in a safe and effective manner which optimizes the potentialof a positive outcome for everyone involved. At the current time, seven Maryland lawenforcement agencies have taken the One Mind Pledge. The Westminster PoliceDepartment is the first agency in Maryland and one of only 20 in the U.S. to complete therequirements for certification.
In completing the One Mind Pledge, the Westminster Police Department has establishedsustainable partnerships with local mental health organizations, developed andimplemented a model policy to address officers' interactions with those affected bymental illness, and provided all of their officers and dispatchers with Mental Health FirstAid training. Additionally, 20% of the department has completed the more intensiveCrisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. The 40‐hour CIT curriculum was designed to traina team of specialized officers to respond to calls that involve individuals in crisis or withmental health disorders such as depression or intellectual disability.
The curriculum includes education on various de‐escalation techniques as well as live role‐play scenarios ofofficers responding to persons who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The Westminster PoliceDepartment, in collaboration with the Carroll County Health Department’s Bureau of Prevention, Wellness andRecovery and the Carroll County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, initiated the Carroll County CrisisIntervention Team in November of 2014. There are now 44 CIT officers and deputies in the County.
Other initiatives that the Westminster Police Department has pursued in response to the needs of this communityinclude participation in the Carroll County Drug Court, the Mental Health Court Diversion Initiative andcollaboration with the recently implemented Mobile Crisis Team. Chief Spaulding stated “it is important that weprovide our staff with clear guidance and effective training to deal with these individuals in crisis. The partnershipswe have forged within the mental health community in Carroll County have played a key role in connecting theseindividuals with much needed resources in a timely and effective way. I am very pleased that we have played akey role in enhancing the safety and quality of life for those affected by mental illness in our community”.
For more information about the One Mind Campaign, please visit the IACP's website:http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign/.