In 2021, the Ballwin Police Department responded to over 350 calls for service involving persons experiencing a mental health-related crisis. These calls were all unique and ranged from subjects suffering with depression, anxiety, confusion, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, homicidal or suicidal thoughts and or feelings.
Fortunately, the vast majority of Ballwin Police Officers have completed 40 hours of specialized training in crisis intervention response. These certified Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers are able to skillfully interact with persons in crisis using de-escalation techniques that increase the overall chances of a safe and effective outcome for the person in need and the officer responding. The curriculum includes training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness in addition to training on mental health treatment, co-occurring disorders, legal issues, and de-escalation techniques.
The CIT program is a national model aimed to promote more effective interactions among law enforcement, mental health care providers, individuals with mental illnesses, their families and communities. As a result, those individuals in crisis will not be unnecessarily arrested because of behavior related to their illness but will instead be afforded access to emergency, inpatient, and community-based mental health treatment services from licensed professionals.
In situations where arrests do occur, those cases can be recommended for mental health court, which focuses on treatment rather than punishment. The mental health court is a treatment court operated by the St. Louis County Circuit Court. Participants take part in a variety of counseling-related programs that upon successful completion can result in a dismissal of charges or a shorter probation.
In circumstances where there are repeated calls for service involving the same individual who does not have a mental health care plan in place, the Police Department utilizes the Community Behavioral Health Liaison (CBHL) Program. CBHLs are mental health professionals who work with law enforcement agencies and the court systems to coordinate the use of mental health resources.
This resource allows for officers to request CBHL intervention for those having frequent interaction with law enforcement. Through the CBHL program, people with behavioral health issues will have better access to treatment.
For more information, contact Officer Ryan Car, CIT Supervisor, at 636-207-2318 or visit missouricit.org.
Links to resources that may be useful:
Walk in behavioral health clinic
NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness
Behavioral Health Response
Missouri Veterans Mental Health Resources