Crisis intervention training is a topic that I wrote about last July, but I wanted to revisit the topic this month in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, which occurs every May. Mental health awareness is a very important community issue that touches all of us in some way, whether it affects a loved one or a friend, its impact on our efforts to address homelessness in Visalia, suicide prevention, etc. 

Last year marked the 10th year of a critical partnership between the Visalia Police Department and Tulare County Mental Health in providing crisis intervention training (CIT) to law enforcement personnel throughout Tulare County. This training was designed to assist law enforcement in better developing a more intelligent, understandable and safer approach and response to mental health crisis events. For that 10-year period, this 40-hour, weeklong training was held semiannually for local law enforcement personnel. 

In recognition of the value of this training and the need in Tulare County, we were able to expand the CIT class offerings from two classes per year to four, significantly increasing the number of CIT-trained law enforcement personnel throughout Tulare County. The Visalia Police Department now has 100 of its 124 line-level officers who have completed the 40-hour CIT training course, with a goal of having all 159 sworn positions and 28 communications operators completing the course.   

I am also very excited to report that our training was recognized by the California Commission on P.O.S.T. (Peace Officers Standards and Training) and will receive an award for Excellence in Training for the CIT program and training it has provided to law enforcement personnel throughout Tulare County as a model program. Staff from the Visalia Police Department and Tulare County Mental Health will travel to Sacramento on May 30 to receive the award. 

Additionally, the Visalia Police Department has entered into a partnership with Tulare County Mental Health that pairs a mental health clinician for several hours a week with officers from our HOPE (Homeless Outreach and Proactive Enforcement) Team to provide valuable intervention in the field with those officers who are working to address chronic homelessness in Visalia. The partnership is proving to be very valuable in providing services and response to a challenging issue, and we hope to build on the successes of this model in the future.

Finally, May 15 is National Peace Officers Memorial Day, when we pause to remember and honor law enforcement personnel throughout our nation who were killed in the line of duty. We are again grateful for the support of this community and honored to serve.

The Tulare County Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 8, at the Tulare County Peace Officers Memorial at Woodland Street and Burrel Avenue in Visalia.

In Honor There Is Valor.