Thursday, August 21, 2014

San Antonio Police Gain National Attention for Mental Health Efforts

While other high-profile stories making the headlines this week are depicting (unfairly or not . . . that is an entirely different matter and article topic) members of our law enforcement as being disconnected from the communities they serve, it was wonderful to see our very own San Antonio police force being commended for the steps it has taken to change the way officers approach those with mental illness. With criminal courts and prison cells being crowded with offenders who are struggling with one form or another of psychiatric issues, an alternative perspective is certainly welcome.

San Antonio has developed Crisis Intervention Training, which is a required program for every member of the police force. Additionally, some officers are given more in-depth training and become specialized in the conversations and tactics that must be employed when dealing with an individual who is not mentally well. Instead of shuffling criminals who are charged with misdemeanors in and out of the criminal justice system, law enforcement is working with community groups and medical professionals to place men and women in rehab facilities or counseling centers so that the root of the problem can be addressed.

National news outlets and criminal psychologists are taking note of this progressive initiative taking place in San Antonio and it is exciting to see this great city recognized and its efforts replicated.

There is no doubt that members of the San Antonio police department have made positive changes that will benefit all members of the greater community, from taxpayers who are responsible for the costs of every inmate to citizens concerned about crime levels to individuals who need psychiatric help instead of time behind bars. As partners in creating a legal system that provides justice with compassion for the people involved, Bertolino LLP is excited to see the continued positive outcomes of this outreach by San Antonio officers and the impact it will have on other police departments across the nation.

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