WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Nearly 50 officers from six jurisdictions have attended Crisis Intervention Team training (CIT) at the Independent Living Resource Center, discussing and going over new practices to help those dealing with mental health issues.

“It’s absolutely eye-opening being able to hear people be vulnerable to understand that it’s more listening and assisting the problem,” Sedgwick County Deputy Jason Richards said.

These training sessions feature panels with mental health experts, lectures, and mock scenarios where law enforcement encounters someone in the field who may be in distress.

“Training like this is going to get vastly more out of what you put in if someone really wants to be there because they’re trying to help their community,” said Richards.

Darla Carra-Denton is a member of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and part of the panel working with officers on this; and says even a small change of approach for law enforcement can help with a tough situation out in the field.

“If they can de-escalate by their tone of voice and the way they respond to you, it makes a huge difference in calming the individual down whether you have a mental health condition or not,” said Carra-Denton.

The Wichita Police Department is already planning another session at a later date with a continuing focus on mental health.