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Letters to the Editor

Training needed

March 3, 2007

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To the editor:

There is a movement in law enforcement that we should know about and support: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). It makes use of a 40-hour training for police officers and involves learning more about and dealing more effectively with mentally disturbed individuals during crisis calls, such as one involving the recent death of a Lawrence trailer court resident.

Several police officers, graduates of CIT training, spoke at a CIT Summit in Topeka earlier this year, testifying that they entered the training session as skeptics and left it as dedicated believers, praising it as "the best training I have ever had." Statistics compiled in Memphis, Tenn., and other cities using CIT show impressive improvement in the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members and citizens. The city of Topeka is planning to implement CIT training this year.

A major benefit of CIT comes with improved communication between the police, hospitals, mental health agencies, the district attorney's office and the public. A support and advocacy group exists in Lawrence of families with loved ones who are mentally disturbed: the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Our community has all the pieces in place to take advantage of the CIT training. This program touches all of us. It costs little. It works!

John Boulton,

Lawrence

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