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Police Chief discusses Crisis Intervention Training with Commission on Disabilities

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  Police Chief David Callahan met with the Commission on Disabilities at their last meeting to explain crisis intervention training and its benefits for the Police Department and value for the entire community. Callahan explained that Revere police have been involved for the past six years in CIT (or crisis intervention training), which focuses on de-escalation techniques for calls generated by mental health issues. Callahan said the five-day training teaches police how to identify and understand how to deal with people who have mental health problems. Police learn to take a group approach and work with mental health specialists, substance abuse counselors and other professionals to resolve problems.

  “The idea is to keep people away from court involvement,” said Callahan. “About 60 percent of these calls don’t go to court like they would have a decade ago because we just didn’t know how to handle the problem. It’s a health care issue not a law enforcement issue.”

  “Injuries have decreased dramatically because of the training,” said Callahan, who added that individuals are safer, police are safer and everyone in the community is safer.

  According to Callahan, the training teaches police how to avoid triggers that could exacerbate conditions, such as autism and Alzheimer’s, and to understand how to reach people in crisis. CIT training is a part of the overall move toward police reform, said Callahan.

  “In Revere, we’ve been kind of forward thinking and we’ve trained ourselves better,” said Callahan. “We have a behavioral health unit to oversee some of these calls, and we have people who step in to do follow up and assist people,” he said.

  Commission Vice Chair Pauline Perno asked if the training is available for staff in other departments, such as the Fire and School Departments. Callahan agreed CIT training would be useful in those settings. However, the grant-funded training police receive is geared specifically to law enforcement. Other departments would need to pursue grants to offer the training.

  Perno also asked what members of the community should do if they see something they feel isn’t right. “You may see something in your neighborhood that doesn’t seem right. Someone might be in distress or trouble – you should call the police,” said Callahan, adding that police would rather get 10 calls that are not necessary rather than miss one where they could have made a difference.

  “We’re here to protect the community but we depend on the community,” said Callahan.

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