Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expanding training for police and 911 operators on how to respond to mental health crisis situations.
Emanuel, who shut down six of the city's 12 public mental health clinics in 2012, announced the crisis intervention reforms Friday.
Emanuel's effort to step up crisis intervention training comes amid controversy over a string of officer-involved shootings in the city, including last month's fatal police shootings of Quintonio LeGrier, 19, and Bettie Jones, 55. The 911 operator who handled a call from LeGrier seeking help prior to the shooting may be disciplined for failing to dispatch police and hanging up on the teen.
"Making sure that Chicago's first responders have the right training, practice, and preparations to de-escalate crisis situations safely and effectively is one of the most essential things that we can do to keep every Chicagoan safe," Emanuel said in a statement. "The efforts we are announcing today are part of the city's commitment to improving its emergency response training, and ensuring that those in need of mental health services are getting the care they need most."
The reforms are from the mayor's new Citywide Mental Health Response Steering Committee, which includes city officials, service providers and experts. Here are the changes announced Friday by Emanuel, as provided by his office:
Expand Crisis Intervention Team program capacity by 50%: The Chicago Police Department (CPD) Crisis Intervention Team training is a 40-hour certification on techniques and best practices to de-escalate interactions with individuals in crisis, particularly people with mental illnesses. The training has been shown to help defuse crises and reduce the use of force and risk of injury. As part of the new reform efforts, in 2016 the CPD will expand the number of officers fully certified in CIT by 50 percent from 1,890 to 2,800, with continued CIT training planned for subsequent years. CPD will also continue its mandate that each district has at least one CIT-certified officer staffed on every watch.
CIT Certification for Supervisors: Going forward, CPD will require full CIT certification for all Field Training Officers and new promotional classes. This will ensure that supervisors responding to incidents and those responsible for training new recruits are fully trained in CIT protocol and techniques.
Training for all Officers: Working with mental health experts, CPD will create and implement an 8-hour, in-service training on mental health awareness for all police officers. This training will be part of the 16 hours of training on de-escalation and use of force tactics announced earlier this year, and will include both classroom instruction and live, scenario-based training.
Training for 911: Working with mental health experts, OEMC will develop improved training for 911 operators and dispatchers to assist them with identifying situations requiring crisis intervention tactics and dispatch the appropriate resources. Going forward, 911 call takers and dispatchers will receive this in-service training annually.
Data and evaluation: The OEMC, Chicago Department of Public Health, CPD and CFD will work together to increase collection of information regarding the number and types of responses related to mental health incidents. Increased data collection will help identify opportunities to improve policies and resource allocations specific to mental health related responses. It will also help the Steering Committee evaluate the City's response to individuals in crisis.
Improved Access to Services: The City will collaborate with mental health experts and community partners to explore new models for improving immediate access to mental health services when individuals interact with police and other first-responders.
"The commitment by the City to expand the CIT training and two-day training for all patrol officers is a very important and necessary step toward changing police interactions with all residents," said Alexa James with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago. "CIT has been a successful training program, but the City needed to invest more resources to expand and strengthen it."
UPDATE (5:21 p.m.): In response to the reforms announced Friday by the mayor, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) called on Emanuel to reopen the six mental health clinics that were closed in 2012:
If Mayor Emanuel is serious about treating mental health, he should reopen the six mental health clinics he closed in 2012. Reopening the six clinics is key to ensuring access to adequate mental health services and treatment for all individuals with mental illness in underserved neighborhoods. The cost of not providing needed services is too high - we have seen what happens when our neighborhoods and families are left without access to affordable mental health services, people end up in emergency rooms, or emergency situations when they call 9-1-1.
I am working with my City Council colleagues, the mental health professionals who make up AFSCME, and the Mental Health Movement on an ordinance that would expand the number of public mental health clinics and locate them in neighborhoods left underserved when Mayor Emanuel closed six clinics in 2012.