We commend leaders in DuPage County for making it the first jurisdiction in Illinois outside of Chicago to be certified by the state to offer Crisis Intervention Team training to law enforcement officers.
Within two years, the sheriff's department will train hundreds of officers, saving lives, protecting police, reducing costs and improving outcomes for people in mental health crisis.
In conversation with dozens of local law enforcement leaders over the last three years, DuPage United identified a dramatic chronic shortage of CIT training in the greater Chicago area, and began to work with the necessary parties. We thank Sheriff John Zuruba, Public Health Executive Director Karen Ayala, State's Attorney Robert Berlin and NAMI DuPage for their commitment to this effort.
This is a wonderful development. After decades of cuts to mental health services, police are encountering more and more people in crisis. CIT training is a proven strategy for helping police handle mental health crises in ways that are safer for police and better for citizens. By diverting people from unnecessary jail time and reducing officer injuries, this training will save taxpayers money. By interacting with well-trained, knowledgeable officers, people in mental health crisis will be less likely to end up in jail and more likely to get appropriate care.
The state certification has been a long time coming: too long, in our view. We strongly encourage the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to keep up the needed standards, but work the process much more quickly for other jurisdictions now seeking course approval. The more officers that are trained, the better the outcomes will be as police encounter those in mental health crisis. Lives are on the line.
J. Michael Solberg