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Westminster police first in state to complete mental illness response initiative

The Westminster Police Department became the first Maryland law enforcement agency to complete the One Mind Campaign Wednesday.

The initiative set forth four actionable items for departments to complete to improve the way police respond when they encounter individuals with mental illnesses. The Westminster Police Department took the pledge to address these items in June 2017.

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According to a news release from the Westminster Police Department, some departments estimate as many as 20 percent of calls for service involve a mental health issue in some way.

Departments who take on the One Mind initiative are asked to

  • Establish a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with one or more community mental health organizations
  • Develop and implement a model policy addressing police response to persons affected by mental illness
  • Train and certify 100 percent of the agency's sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers) in Mental Health First Aid or another equivalent mental health awareness program
  • Provide Crisis Intervention Team training to a minimum of 20 percent of the agency's sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers)

According to the release, The Westminster Police Department, in collaboration with the Carroll County Health Department’s Bureau of Prevention, Wellness and Recovery and the Carroll County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, initiated the Carroll County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in November of 2014.

The Westminster Police Department also participates in the Carroll County Drug Court, the Mental Health Court Diversion Initiative and collaboration with the recently implemented Mobile Crisis Team, according to the release.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), of which Westmsitner police leadership is a part, started the One Mind Campaign “to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness,” according to language outlined in the pledge for law enforcement agencies.

Westminster Chief of Police Jeff Spaulding chose to join the campaign because “of the prevalence of these calls in the City and the need to ensure that officers are handling them in a safe and effective manner which optimizes the potential of a positive outcome for everyone involved,” according to the release.

Spaulding stated in the release, “It is important that we provide our staff with clear guidance and effective training to deal with these individuals in crisis. The partnerships we have forged within the mental health community in Carroll County have played a key role in connecting these individuals with much needed resources in a timely and effective way. I am very pleased that we have played a key role in enhancing the safety and quality of life for those affected by mental illness in our community."

Seven other Maryland police agencies are in the process of completing the one mind process, according to the release.

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