Law enforcement train to tackle mental illness

Captain W.A. "Allen" Brock hands out certificates to officers who took the Crisis Intervention Training course. / Jessica Fairley

Law enforcement and civilians graduated Friday from a crisis intervention course that taught them how to handle mentally ill people.

Just a week ago a man in Albany was spotted running naked along a busy highway. Officials later revealed that the man had a history of mental illness.

"The officer that are on the streets probably come in contact with a person with a mental health issue every day," said Deputy Thomas Kendrick, with Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

This is where the Crisis Intervention Training class comes into play. It teaches officials how to handle someone with a mental disorder. In the course, the group also learned of community resources to use when faced with a person on the edge of a breakdown, giving them the help they need, but keeping them out of jail.

"It's not appropriate to be receiving medical treatment for a biological illness in jail and it is seven times more expensive to treat in the jail than in the community," said Sue Marlow, District four and six coordinator for Crisis Intervention Training.

Officials say a great percentage of inmates have mental disorders. They say early intervention may keep them from going to jail, thus creating a savings for taxpayers.