NJ pairing cops with social workers to learn de-escalation techniques
New Jersey’s top law enforcement official is moving forward with a plan to train police on how to reduce deadly incidents when officers respond to situations involving mental-health breakdowns.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the Crisis Intervention Team pilot program will pair 20 officers at a time with 20 mental health professionals and social workers to learn techniques on peacefully resolving situations.
CIT training is expensive and typically only available from a handful of consultants so the goal of the pilot program “is to make sure we can get a representative sample of CIT-trained officers in all of our departments across the state," Grewal said. "We can’t do everybody but we want to have a certain number."
The first officers will be trained in Atlantic City, Millville, Paterson, Trenton, and the State Police assigned to the Statehouse in Trenton.
Grewal said someone having delusional thoughts may not follow police orders to drop a weapon and wind up threatening an officer who may have to use deadly force.
“But what this training allows officers to do is to understand the individual they’re interacting with may not be ignoring their commands, but rather may not be able to process them due to the mental health issues he or she is dealing with," Grewal said.
Grewal said that while it may not be possible for every New Jersey police officer to go through CIT training, it is possible to have a few officers in each department trained.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com