The Tomahawk Police Department announces that they have completed a pledge they took to improve their response to those suffering from mental illness in their community. The pledge is part of an initiative called the One Mind Campaign, started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a 30,000 member professional association for law enforcement that provides training, technical assistance and recruitment services. To join the One Mind Campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices in a 12-36 month period to ensure successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness.
In the law enforcement community, mental illness has become a common focus, with some departments estimating that as many as 20 percent of their calls for service are related to mental health. Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins made the decision to join the IACP’s One Mind Campaign because the Tomahawk Police Department has experienced an increase in mental health calls over the past several years.
In completing the One Mind Pledge, the Tomahawk Police Department established a sustainable partnership with a local mental health organization, developed and implemented a model policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental illness, and ensured that all of their officers received some type of mental health awareness training, with at least 20 percent of the department completing the more intensive Crisis Intervention Training. The 40-hour Crisis Intervention curriculum is designed by local agencies to train a team of specialized officers to respond to calls that involve individuals with mental health disorders such as depression or intellectual disability. The curriculum includes education on various de-escalation techniques as well as live role-play scenarios of officers responding to persons who need mental health assistance.
Other initiatives that the Tomahawk Police Department has pursued in response to the needs of the community include Project Lifesaver, Crisis Intervention Training and mental health first aid.
“The members of the Tomahawk Police Department take great pride in providing professional police services to the community we serve,” Chief Elvins said. “We are committed to reducing the stigma associated with mental illness while providing that portion of the community with services in a respectful, competent manner.
“The greatest benefit in adopting all the strategies of the One Mind Campaign pledge has been the ability to handle mental health calls in a respectful and professional manner. The de-escalation techniques have allowed the officers to work towards solutions with the partnerships that were created.”
The Tomahawk Police Department is the first agency in Wisconsin to complete the pledge.