Mental health problems within communities have increased over the past 40 years, incongruent with the availability of inpatient services. Therefore, police agencies have had to meet the growing needs of individuals suffering mental health emergencies. Law enforcement officers not only serve as first responders to these crises, but often they are the only source of immediate service for urgent mental health issues. U.S. Attorney Bentley served as the keynote speaker to approximately 32 new Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) graduates receiving their certificates.
The CIT program provides the foundation necessary to promote community and statewide solutions to assist individuals with mental illness. Graduates took part in a 40-hour course focusing on providing assistance to individuals and improving the safety of patrol officers, family members, and citizens. While congratulating the graduates, Mr. Bentley also discussed the importance of maintaining the psychological and emotional health of officers, as they continue to protect and serve.
Participating law enforcement agencies included the Pinellas County Sherriff Office, the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg Police Department, the Largo Police Department, the Pinellas Park Police Department, the Clearwater Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department, the Belleair Police Department, and the Treasure Island Police Department.