Wisconsin police work to improve response to mental illness

Image courtesy MGN Online

MADISON (AP) -- Police in southern Wisconsin are using mental health officers and crisis intervention training to improve interactions with people who are mentally ill.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the Dane County Sheriff's office began crisis intervention training in April 2016. Lt. Brian Mikula says almost 70 of the 190 deputies at the jail have undergone training.

The Madison Police Department appointed five mental health officers in 2015. The officers work with mentally ill individuals and divert them from the jail when possible. A sixth officer is expected to be added in August.

The officers make home visits, conduct outreach, connect people to services and sometimes respond to active calls. Officers responded to more than 300 active mental health calls and followed up on cases more than 1,400 times last year.

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