Tampa Police Department unveils mental health crisis training plan

By The Numbers
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TAMPA (WFLA) – Officers and emergency dispatchers with the Tampa Police Department will undergo Crisis Intervention Training to help respond more effectively to people with mental illness, the department announced Tuesday.

So far this year, the Tampa Police Department has responded to nearly 2,500 Baker Acts and nearly 700 Marchman Acts. Both are laws providing a means of both involuntary and voluntary assessment, stabilization and treatment of a person in the midst of a mental health crisis or a person dealing with substance abuse.

“My concern is not enough people are concerned about it,” said TPD Chief Brian Dugan. “It’s about us partnering with different people that can help us train our officers better and have a better response.”

Among other organizations, TPD will be working with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and Gracepoint — both of which provide mental health solutions, both in and out of emergency situations.

Dispatchers will undergo 20 hours of training, while police officers will have 40 hours, including crisis intervention training.

Police academy students will experience that training before beginning work for the police department.

The goal, Dugan said, is to have all staff members trained by June 1.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) noted approximately 24 percent of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse and 40 percent “somewhat” worse.

“If you’re not aware of it, it’s estimated that 100 people a year die in a suicide by cop situation,” Dugan said. “It’s about us training our officers to do everything they possibly can to deescalate a situation and use deadly force as a last resort in every situation.”

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