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Mental Health Resources Key To Improving Police-Community Relationship

Justin Hicks
IPB News

Public health and criminal justice officials say improving the police’s relationship with the community isn’t possible without addressing mental health – both with law enforcement and the people they serve.

Indiana officials discussed the issue at a recent forum in Indianapolis.

Marion County Judge David Certo said police aren’t adequately trained to deal with people in mental health crisis. He encourages communities to use programs like Indianapolis’s mobile crisis assistance team – pairing police with medics and mental health professionals when responding to emergency calls.

“And that makes the citizens safer but also the officer safer," Certo said. "And the pilot program says that fewer than 2 percent of those interactions resulted in arrest.”

Elkhart Police’s senior chaplain Jim Bontrager said the other issue is the mental health of police officers. He said a key they’ve found in Elkhart is involving the officers’ families.

“We do a number of innovative trainings in our department where we help those that they’ll be honest with in mental health – their loved ones – to better understand what they’re up against,” Bontrager said.

Officials noted that many of the proposed solutions will require greater resources.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.