2019-01-11 / Community

South Portland police recognized for training

South Portland Police Department is the first police agency in Maine to have been recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as having attained the requirements of the One Mind campaign.

International Association of Chiefs of Police is a 30,000-member professional law enforcement association; its One Mind campaign initiative is intended to ensure a broadened and enhanced response to those who experience mental illness.

The One Mind campaign requires agencies to pledge and implement the following promising practices to enhance successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness:

 Implementation of a written policy that addresses responses to and interactions with persons affected by mental illness. The department has long maintained such a policy, which is based, in part, on the International Association of Chiefs of Police model policy, and additionally meets standards established by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association and the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.

The department’s policy, in part:

 Requires a two-officer response, along with supervisory notification of any mental health crisis-related call.

 Provides that officers are not expected to diagnose any particular condition, but lists behaviors and cues intended to assist officers in recognizing whether intervention may or may not be required.

 Provides direction on interacting with a person in crisis, and makes it a priority for officers to utilize the “time necessary to assess the situation and attempt to deescalate the person.”

 Incorporates use of the department’s behavioral health liaison, as well as other crisis or community mental health organizations.

 Provides the standards and guidance associated with taking a person into protective custody, consistent with Maine law.

 Details what reporting is expected, to include completion of a report, with its dissemination to the appropriate clinician involved in the person’s assessment and care.

 Establishes employee training requirements that include crisis intervention team training for all sworn personnel, followed by relevant refresher training at least every three years.

The department maintains several partnerships with community mental health organizations, to include Maine Medical Center, Mercy Hospital and Cumberland County Mobile Crisis. Officials routinely collaborate with those agencies “in the moment” in order to allow for community and/or hospital setting assessment of persons believed to be in crisis.

Furthermore, in 2017, the department hired a civilian behavioral health liaison. This employee is a mental health clinician, who was previously a special agent for a federal law enforcement agency. The position works closely with officers and in the community, collaborating with them and other organizations and stakeholders to help address both mental health and substance use disorder issues.

Training for all sworn personnel will include at least 20 percent of sworn staff receiving a 40-hour crisis intervention team training, and 100 percent of sworn staff receiving the eight-hour “Mental Health First Aid” training.

The department surpasses the One Mind training requirements outlined by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Since August 2015, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy has provided Mental Health First Aid to ALL new recruit officers during the Basic Law Enforcement Training Program, a required certification course for all Maine law enforcement officers. All South Portland police officers who have attended the program since that time have therefore received that training.

Since 2002, the department has collaborated with NAMI-Maine to provide the more in depth crisis intervention team training.

Officers frequently engage with members of the community who are in crisis, who have a mental illness, and/or who are impaired due to substances such as alcohol or drugs. One metric officials use in assessing these frequencies is the number of use of force and control incidents involving these segments of the population. That frequency has increased each of the past five years; in 2017, approximately 77.9 percent of the department’s use of force and control incidents involved a person who was believed to be in crisis or on substances. In 2017, that number had risen to approximately 86.6 percent of all use of force and control incidents. None of

For more information on the campaign, including a listing of agencies across the country that have made the One Mind pledge, https://www.theiacp.org/one-mindcampaign.

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