The Riley County Police Department will be starting a new campaign to better help deliver mental health services to the community.
RCPD Director Dennis Butler told the Riley County commissioners on Thursday that the One Mind campaign is a pledge to deliver this service for the next one to three years. The campaign includes reaching benchmarks on training a certain percentage of their patrol officers and crisis intervention team. The officers already have an eight hour training course on mental health first aid, but Butler would like to have more trained in a 40 hour class.
The idea behind the campaign is to equip officers with the knowledge to recognize people suffering from a mental health crisis. This will change their tactics on how to deal with uncooperative people.
“The overall goal, of course, is to not arrest them if we don’t have to, not use force if we don’t have to, and get them the kind of services from other mental health agencies,” says Butler, “We can help bridge that gap.”
This will be a subgroup of the Pawnee Mental Health Task Force and will look beyond Riley County into other counties they serve. Butler says they are even possibly renaming this the Flint Hills Crisis Intervention team. The training will also try to include paramedics, EMTs, and firefighters.
Butler also says the RCPD is exploring carrying Narcan, the medication used to treat drug overdose patients, in the northern part of the county. This was brought up to him from City of Riley officials during their city council meeting earlier this week.
This idea has been researched in the past according to Butler, but the decision was made not to purchase it and train the officers. However, an argument was made in favor by the City of Riley due to the longer response times of the EMS, who carry the Narcan.
Butler has asked Captain Richard Fink to do more research into equipping and training north county officers for Narcan.
Then finally Butler let the commission know that the City of Manhattan has offered the RCPD office space in the proposed parking garage in Aggieville if it gets passed. They would relocate the Aggieville substation to the ground floor of the office space. They were also offered additional space for training, meetings, and conferences, but are prioritizing the substation.
Butler says this venue would serve well in the event they hold training classes for outside agencies, since there are hotels and places to eat nearby.