UIC professor Amy Watson studies how police respond to people with mental illness. Her research shows officers trained as crisis intervention specialists are more effective in getting people help instead of arresting them.
She reviewed the curriculum for the two-day training that Chicago is rolling out.
“I think it’s pretty good,” she said. “It won’t solve the problem, but it’s a pretty positive first step.”
Her list of next-steps is long, and extends beyond cops. It includes training for supervisors, training more cops to become crisis-intervention specialists, and training and process changes at the agency that handles 911 calls.
“There’s many things that need to happen to support people that may be in crisis in the community."
Dan Weissmann is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow him @danweissmann.