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Park City Police undergo mental health crisis training

PARK CITY, Utah -- Valley Behavioral Health and the Park City Police Department are teaming up to offer mental health crisis training to officers.

The crisis intervention team, or CIT, training is meant to better equip officers to handle mental health situations.

“You’d think it would be routine for us as police officers, but it’s really not. Every day, we’re dealt things that we didn’t have yesterday,” said Officer Michael Archibeque of the Park City Police Department.

That’s why Valley Behavioral Health partnered with the department to offer this training.

"A psychotic episode may look really similar to somebody who is on a type of drug or having a drug interaction,” said Dodi Wilson, the Director of Valley Behavioral Health. “[Or] perhaps it is a prescribed medication."

Wilson said they want to prepare police to be aware of a variety of possible issues.

“Whatever the case might be, we want to look at every scenario so the police are informed: What could this be?" she said. "If people are not safe, then yes, we may need to arrest, but let’s try to de-escalate beforehand.”

The training included simulations of an individual suffering from PTSD and someone who was suicidal, among other scenarios.

“This better prepares our officers to respond and help those in crisis, so we can talk them down, find the most appropriate help for them,” Archibeque said. “Whether talking to us helps them, whether they need to go to the emergency room and be assessed there, or further go into a mental health facility to get help there.”

Research shows that officers with CIT training are more likely to refer a person for treatment than arrest them.

“That’s what we’re looking for is that long term solution,” Archibeque said. “That’s why we need to partner with our mental health facilities.”

Wilson said the goal is to get people the help they need while keeping the community safe.

“We can hopefully prevent many people from being incarcerated, from going to jail, who can be better helped with treatment, or even hospitalization, or with your local community mental health center,” she said.