Crisis Intervention Team Training graduation ceremony

Officers with several South Mississippi law enforcement agencies are now specially trained to deal with mental health cases, drug use, and other crisis situations they encounter while on the job.

Patrol Sgt. Thomas ‘Trey’ Reynolds said, “I’m walking away with a better sense of understanding of those that deal with mental illness and crisis, and those who deal with in drug use – as they say, which came first, the chicken or the egg? A lot of times those co-exist. It gave me a different lens to look through. So, I’m not just a cop when I go out there now. I am a cop who has the tools and resources to handle mental illness crisis a little better.”

Sgt. Reynolds has just added additional skills and training to rely on when responding to calls and crisis situations while on the job with the Wiggins Police Department.

He was among ten law enforcement officers who graduated Friday with specialized CIT, or Crisis Intervention Training. It’s designed to help law enforcement better handle mental illness and crisis situations, a jail deterrent that instead leads to addressing the root of a problem.

Keynote Speaker Captain Jamie Tedford is a strong support of the program. “Back in 2016 whenever I went through the training in Lauderdale County, I had an individual who broke down and looked me in the eyes and said, ‘I didn’t choose to be like this. I don’t want to be like this. It just really hit home with me. I have a daughter and sons. It hit home that individuals need help. They don’t need to just be put behind bars and locked up.”

Friday’s graduates included law enforcement officers from Pearl River County, the Wiggins, Pass Christian and Biloxi police departments. Program leaders say this special training and certification would benefit any law enforcement agency. Wiggins Police Chief Jeff Thomas said, “We’re seeing an uptick in mental health cases and people who are in crisis.  It teaches our officers to de-escalate them, and hopefully we can reduce their calls for service to public safety agencies.”

“A lot of times you’ll see somebody out on the street, and they’ll say, ‘I want to talk to that officer. He’s a CIT officer.”

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