Phoenix police officers begin mental health training

Last year, Phoenix had 44 officer-involved shootings, which is more than any other law enforcement agency.

Starting today, officers here at the Mountain View precinct are taking part in a training course called "Mental Health First Aid."

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Taking a mandatory eight-hour instructional class, the first group of Phoenix patrol officers are learning how to better understand and interact on the frontlines with issues like mental illness.

"It's designed for public safety and to do a couple different things," said Jim Kirk, a retired law enforcement officer. "One is to give officers a more differentiated approach going into a mental health crisis or mental health challenge in the field, or to go in there and de-escalate that situation for the wellness of that individual and for officer's safety."

The 15-part training also includes how officers can keep people safe without having to draw any weapon, but instead, getting people the mental healthcare they may need.

"Keep them safe and look at different options as far as their wellness is concerned," Kirk said. "Maybe a treatment provider, maybe taking them to a crisis center or a hospital to make sure that they're taken care of."

The training also teaches officers how to monitor their own mental health so they can be most effective without compromising anyone's safety.