PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Crisis Intervention Training is a well-known course taken by many police officers.
But for the first time in Mississippi, a CIT class has been given exclusively for School Resource Officers.
“When you go through the training academy, you learn the laws and learn how to handle people that break the laws,” said Chief Gavin Guy of the Petal School Police Department. "There’s more people dealing with mental illness.”
Guy and the Crisis Intervention Team of Pine Belt Mental Health created a CIT course specifically for School Resource Officers.
"CIT is a pre-arrest diversion program for people that are living with a serious mental illness,” said CIT Coordinator Linda Foley. “We train law enforcement officers how to safely de-escalate people that are in crisis and engage them in treatment. It's a great partnership between mental health and law enforcement."
In the 40-hour class, officers learned the basics of mental illness, how to recognize mental illness and how to safely handle people with mental illness.
Graduates said they took this course in order to learn how to better protect the public.
“You see someone that’s being agitated or hollering or screaming and you think, ‘Hey they’re just out of control.’ But they could be going through a mental health crisis,” Petal School District officer Clay Johnson said. “Given this training, it gives you the opportunity to get them the help they may need.”
“It’s something everyone is going to come into contact with in the future or is currently dealing with something or has dealt with it in the past,” said Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College officer Glenn Wieck. "This training is going to better facilitate officers to be able to help with those individuals that need help in a crisis.”
There were 13 total graduates from different school districts including Petal, Perry County, Forrest County Agricultural High School, Laurel and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.