Bucks County officers are trained to recognize behavior stemming from mental illness

Jim Melwert
January 11, 2019 - 1:50 pm
Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia (left) and District Attorney Matt Weintraub (center) attend a Crisis Intervention Training course police graduation.

Bucks County District Attorney's Office

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BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Another class of police officers in Bucks County has graduated from a course that teaches them how to recognize and deal with issues stemming from mental illness.

Typically, Bucks County offers two Crisis Intervention Training courses each year, but Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said they added a third for 2019.

"My short-term goal is to have one officer per department per shift to be trained," he said. "And my long-term goal is to have every officer trained."

The challenge, he said, is freeing up officers from smaller departments, so the county is chipping in $20,000 to cover overtime or other costs.

The 40-hour training program teaches officers how to recognize behavior influenced by mental health issues. They are trained how to calm them down or how to avoid certain triggers. 

"People with mental health disorders can seem like they’re being aggressive or obstinate to police officers, when really it’s their mental illness," explained Bucks County commissioner Diane Marseglia.

She said sometimes people avoid calling police because they worry their loved one will end up arrested or hurt, but she hopes with program, people know they can call 911 and request someone with crisis intervention training.

Bucks County started the program in 2018, and Marseglia said about a third of all police have gone through the training.