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Police Lacking in Mental Health Training

Huntington Police Department

There are no police agencies in West Virginia that undergo crisis intervention team training — even though the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has said West Virginia has one of the nation's highest rates of severe mental illness.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that CIT training teaches police about signs and symptoms of mental illness, de-escalation techniques and resources in their community.

According to the University of Memphis CIT Center, only West Virginia, Arkansas and Alabama have no CIT-trained agencies.

Chiefs of Huntington, Morgantown and Charleston police departments all said interactions with people in mental health crises are a regular part of the job.

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston says police agencies have limited resources, so many incorporate "elements of CIT" into currently existing trainings.

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