UMPD succeeds in crisis training

Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota Police Department recently took positive steps toward improving community-police relations. As of Jan. 27, all officers finished de-escalation training to prepare for crisis situations, most significantly those related to mental health conditions. Before this date, only 12 officers had completed de-escalation training.
In the past, the department’s 12 trained officers were not able to respond to every mental health call the police received, forcing untrained officers to enter into situations for which they weren’t prepared. 
We applaud the UMPD for filling this crucial gap in their officer training, and we strongly encourage other local police departments to do the same. 
Twenty-five to 30 percent of all calls the UMPD receives are related to crisis. It is not difficult to believe that the Minneapolis Police Department, which serves a far larger population than the University’s, receives mental health calls in greater numbers. 
Yet unlike the UMPD, only some MPD officers are trained in crisis de-escalation. If a student is experiencing a mental health emergency off-campus, there is no guarantee they will receive assistance from a trained officer. 
Mental health crises are often life-or-death situations. It is irresponsible for the MPD, or any police department, to send untrained officers into a crisis situation. Unfortunately, calling the police to respond to such an emergency is the only option for many communities. In order to protect all community members, crisis de-escalation training must become mandatory for all officers.