More Wichita Officers Learn To Help Mentally Ill

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Wichita's police chief is determined to train more officers to deal with mentally ill people.

Chief Norman Williams also wants to increase the amount of contact his officers have with the mentally ill, including those who are homeless. The goal is to defuse potentially violent encounters.

Experts say mentally ill people are not to blame for most homicides. But Williams and others say many programs to serve them have shut down, leaving a gap. The mentally ill now fill jails and prisons, putting law enforcement officers in the front lines.

Williams has become so concerned about the issue that he's asked his staff to educate most of his force with specialized mental illness training. Currently, 72 of his 650 veteran officers have the training.

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