FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - There's a new team among law enforcement in the Pine Belt that's working to help save lives. They're called CIT, or Crisis Intervention Team. These members of law enforcement went through 40 hours of training to be more prepared when encountering people with mental illness.
Law enforcement from several departments including Forrest County, Jones County, Forrest General Hospital, Petal PD, Hattiesburg PD, Petal School District, Mississippi Drug Court and civilians within the Hattiesburg Police Department took part in the training.
Organizers said the training teaches officers skills to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and divert them to an appropriate setting to provide treatment, ensuring individuals are not arrested and taken to jail due to the symptoms of their illness.
The Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said he wants to try to find a way to incorporate the program into the 12-week basic academy training so that all officers can be more prepared when entering in to the force.
"We've become educated and smarter as time went on and realized we've got to form alliances with our treatment professionals, our healthcare professionals, and our mental health professionals," Fisher said. "It makes for a better community."
He said without a doubt this program will save lives.
For more information about CIT, visit Department of Health's website.