AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After 13 years, Amarillo Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit has grown into five officers and one supervisor.
“It was a couple of patrol officers that did a little bit of extra training on mental health and dealing with people going through crisis,” Cpl. Jeb Hilton with APD explained.
Each member of the unit is specially trained as mental health peace officers ready to approach situations with civilians suffering from mental health issues.
“We were getting people who were getting into fights with police officers we were having to throw them in jail for things that was the way it was handled it was the only resources we had,” Cpl. Hilton said.
Since the crisis unit launched in 2007, Cpl. Jeb Hilton said the department has upped its resources. In 2017 under the direction of former APD Chief, Ed Drain, more mental health training was prioritized throughout the department. By that time, 50 to 60 officers at APD were mental health certified, today that number is 149.
“Having training for those certain officers that specialize in it and then having that training for all of our officers is something that’s important to us,” Cpl. Hilton added.
Cpl. Hilton said every year the department receives around 3,300 calls for service involving mental health.
“It does seem like in the past few years we have seen an increase in mental health and and mental crisis calls so having this unit available is great and it’s been less use of force that we’ve seen,” Cpl. Hilton explained.
In 2018, APD partnered with Texas Panhandle Centers Behavioral and Developmental Health. TPC professionals routinely ride with officers to provide real-time advice during a crisis intervention. Sgt. Devin Cantwell also explains in detail the type of training officers go through to get certified, click here to watch.
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