Since the early 1990s we have seen increases each year in the number of mental illness calls we respond to. But there is little to no federal and state funding for hospital stays, training for our officers, and everything in between.
State mandates for training police officers has not kept up with the times, and our new officers receive literally no training after college on dealing with the mentally ill. I now know that many of the strategies I used when dealing with the mentally ill were not the best.
We were grateful to receive funding, through the Miller Dwan Foundation a few years ago, to train about 20 officers on the best practices for dealing with mental illness; however, we need to train more, and the money for training is simply not there.
We will continue to look for sources of funding for training; however, this is only part of this complicated issue that has been pushed to the local level. We will continue to work with our local mental health providers and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to ensure we are keeping up with national best practices and standards.