Police Response to Mental Health Crises

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Nationally, one out of every five adults will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime. Mental illness is a medical condition, but unlike many other health conditions, it can often go unseen and can affect how individuals think, feel and behave. Sometimes, those feelings or behaviors lead to involvement by the police. 

Each year, the Naperville Police Department responds to nearly 1,000 mental health-related calls for service. Fortunately, Naperville’s first responders are in a unique position to employ crisis intervention techniques that will help de-escalate crisis situations, identify each individual’s unique needs and connect residents to available resources throughout the community. 

Officer Training

All of Naperville’s police officers receive basic training on mental health conditions and tactics to help de-escalate incidents involving individuals in crisis. Officers’ initial training in Mental Health First Aid is supplemented by annual internal training on de-escalation and other social service-focused topics. However, training doesn’t stop there. To date, more than 70 percent of Naperville’s officers have successfully completed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training with the goal of 100 percent becoming CIT-certified. 

CIT training is an advanced 40-hour course that is in large part dedicated to enhancing officers’ knowledge of and response to mental health crises. It teaches officers the types of mental health disorders and how they present, how to recognize when someone’s in a mental health crisis, and how to communicate with an individual in crisis and de-escalate the situation safely. 

In-House Social Services

Naperville Police Department also has its own in-house Social Services Unit, which develops strategies to address unmet needs within the community, particularly those related to domestic violence, mental health disorders, child/elder abuse, sexual assault, substance use disorders, homelessness and poverty, and youth and family issues.

The Social Services Unit is staffed by three full-time social workers and one full-time counselor, who provide short-term crisis counseling, service referrals, and court and victim advocacy, among other supportive services. This group follows up on incidents reported to the police that require further assistance, but police assistance is not required for community members to utilize their services. Clinicians assist with informal mental health assessments, support friends or family members of those in crisis, and provide options and referrals for additional services. 

Mobile Hybrid Units

In 2021, the Naperville Police Department piloted a hybrid response model that pairs an NPD clinician with an officer on patrol during times when call volumes traditionally peak. This team – called Mobile CIT – responds to in-progress, emergency calls for service that could benefit from the intervention or perspective of a clinician. This could include calls involving a mental health component, missing adults or children, substance use concerns, homelessness, domestic violence or other violent crimes, juvenile issues, elderly concerns, death notifications, and any other individual or family in crisis. The clinicians are able to provide immediate intervention and follow-up support to the individuals involved. This program is now a permanent part of NPD’s service to the community.

This tiered service approach as proven extremely beneficial in addressing crisis situations with an integrated approach of establishing safety through law enforcement interventions while providing support services by a clinician.

About the Naperville Police Department

The Naperville Police Department is an internationally-accredited agency that protects and serves the City of Naperville and it’s nearly 150,000 residents. Their approximately 270-member department is divided into three divisions providing a wide array of preventative and responsive services to Illinois’ fourth largest city.
Their patrol division responds to calls for service and provides routine patrol and traffic enforcement. The investigations division is responsible for conducting follow-up investigations of crimes, implementing community programs, and crime analysis. The administrative services division is comprised of non-sworn employees in the areas of emergency communications, records, information technology, and accreditation. Together, their mission is to provide extraordinary service to the community while protecting life and property. They live out this mission with an emphasis on integrity, employees, accountability, diversity, and community partnership. They are committed to collaborating with the entire community to build a partnership based on engagement, trust, and transparency as they carry out the great responsibility of enforcing laws and ordinances with the community, not on the community.

About Chief Arres

Jason began his career at the Naperville Police Department as a patrol officer in 2001. He served as an undercover detective for the Special Enforcement Unit, a detective in the Intelligence Unit, and a member of the Department’s Special Response Team and the ILEAS Region 4 Weapons of Mass Destruction Team. Jason has held the positions of patrol, K-9, and administrative sergeant as well as patrol and professional standards commander. As a deputy chief, he led both the investigations and patrol divisions and oversaw Naperville’s Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) dispatch center. He was sworn in as chief of police for the Naperville Police Department on November 10, 2021.

Jason holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Public Safety Administration from Lewis University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia; the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Police Staff and Command; and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership in Police Organizations school.

Jason is happily married and the proud father of two daughters.

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