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New mental health legislation for law enforcement in Indiana

New mental health legislation for law enforcement in Indiana
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 4:23 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - On March 21, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1296.

On July 1, Indiana residents will no longer need a permit to carry a handgun.

With all of the controversy surrounding that, other details of the legislation may have been overlooked, particularly legislation directly impacting Indiana Law Enforcement and its police academies.

Evansville Police Department Mental Health Liaison Officer Mario Reid says that it’s a welcome change and one that he’s very familiar with.

“We’ve always done that training anyway as a part of our normal training at the academy here,” says Reid.

That training is crisis intervention, where officers are learning how to properly interact with those who may have special needs, addiction issues, or mental health ailments.

As referenced in House Bill 1296, this training will now be mandatory. There will be six hours minimum for each person accepted to train at an Indiana Law Enforcement Academy or training school, according to the document.

Officer Reid says that they’re already well-versed in Evansville.

“We’ve always done at least seven to eight hours of that during the academy. We also intertwine that with scenario days,” says Reid, “which we have multiple scenario days throughout the year. So actually, it ends up being a lot more than just the seven hours.”

Still, officer Reid is welcoming of the mandate.

“Really mandating that means that everybody that we work with because there’s a lot of times we do work with other agencies within our region or throughout the state, we all know that we’re all coming from the same training background,” says Reid, “and that we can all work together in that. That’s not something that we have to think about while we’re dealing with individuals.”

Officer Reid tells us that he welcomes any legislative push for mental health.

The verbatim language from House Bill 1296 says:

“(9) Minimum basic training requirements for each person accepted for training at a law enforcement training school or academy that include six (6) hours of training in interacting with:

(A) persons with autism, mental illness, addictive disorders, intellectual disabilities, and developmental disabilities;

(B) missing endangered adults (as defined in IC 12-7-2-131.3); and

(C) persons with Alzheimer’s disease or related senile dementia;

to be provided by persons approved by the secretary of family and social services and the board. The training must include an overview of the crisis intervention teams.”

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