Chief's Blog: Police response to those with mental illness has evolved significantly

Publish Date 06/14/2021
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From Chief Smith's blog: 

"Few people in Kansas City have as much day-to-day interaction with those experiencing mental illness or substance abuse crises as the members of KCPD. That’s why we have worked diligently for years now to prepare and equip our staff to safely interact with those in crisis, get them to the resources they need and, if possible, keep them out of the criminal justice system.

In the early 2010s, we realized how important it was, so we created a squad of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers dedicated to serving and following up with members of our community with mental illness who came to the attention of law enforcement. They work hand-in-hand with community mental health liaisons (social workers from mental health treatment providers). In 2020 – even among COVID restrictions - this squad responded to 675 calls for service involving those with mental illness. They conducted 464 follow-up visits in addition to that. They contacted homeless individuals 449 times to help them get treatment and housing.

They also conducted extensive mental health awareness and de-escalation training for our KCPD officers and other area law enforcement, as well as community and panel presentations.

Thanks to our CIT squad and social workers, thousands of members of our community got the help they really needed instead of being thrown into the criminal justice system or having a negative encounter with law enforcement."

Read the full blog.