Bedford Joins “One Mind Campaign” to Improve Police Officer Interactions with those Affected by Mental Illness

Submitted on behalf of the Bedford Police Department

Chief Robert Bongiorno is pleased to announce that he, on behalf of the Bedford Police Department, this month pledged to join the One Mind Campaign, an effort to improve law enforcement interactions with those affected by mental illness.

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, 182 Massachusetts Police Chiefs undertook the voluntary pledge to join the campaign, which is sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. (Click here for a video from the IACP.)

The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and people affected by mental illness. To join the campaign, law enforcement agencies must commit to implementing four promising practices over a 12-36 month time frame.

They are:

  • Establish a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with one or more community
    mental health organization(s)
  • Develop and implement a model policy to address police response to persons affected by mental illness
  • Train and certify 100 percent of the agency’s sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers) in Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety (MHFA).
  • Provide Crisis Intervention Team training to a minimum of 20 percent of your agency’s sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers).

In the coming months, the Bedford Police Department will announce the partnerships, policies, and training undertaken by the department and its officers.

Creation of a Crisis Intervention Team is an especially important milestone for police departments, as it includes more than 40 hours of training on vital skills including verbal de-escalation, scenario-based training, and personal interactions during training with mental health professionals and with people who have experienced and recovered from mental health crisis and family members who have likewise been affected by mental illness.

“It’s essential that our department be equipped to serve some of the most vulnerable members of our community and be able to de-escalate complex situations,” Chief Bongiorno said. “We are committed to ensuring that we have a deep understanding of the needs of people struggling with mental illnesses and their loved ones because it’s a critical component of community policing and our ongoing commitment to the concept of police legitimacy.”

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that nearly half of Americans suffering from a disorder go untreated. Such disorders, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44

Click here for more information from NAMI. Also, click here for a video about Crisis Intervention Teams.


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