The Daily Northwestern

University Police trains personnel in mental health first aid

Maddie Burakoff, Assistant Campus Editor

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University Police trained its personnel in mental health first aid in July, according to a safety message sent out Wednesday.

“Given the highly stressful environment that we operate in, it’s important that our officers recognize early signs of a situation that might be attributed to mental health distress so as to take appropriate action,” Chief of Police Bruce Lewis told The Daily.

This training was required as part of UP’s enrollment in the One Mind campaign, run by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, deputy chief of police Gloria Graham said.

All police personnel and dispatchers were trained to identify potential cases of mental health crisis, use de-escalation techniques and recommend resources, Graham said.

UP also added five officers to its bike officer program, according to the safety message.

Graham told The Daily having more officers on bikes instead of in patrol vehicles improves approachability and encourages community engagement. It is also “ecologically responsible” to use bikes over cars, she said, especially if response times are similar.

The email included links to data regarding all of UP’s field and traffic stops. According to the data from the second quarter of 2017, white males as a group had the most field stops and the most traffic stops.

The data for the second quarter looked “pretty consistent” with what UP has seen in the past, Graham said.

In addition to posting field and traffic stop data on a quarterly basis, Lewis said he and other UP members review data weekly to detect patterns and ensure there is no evidence of “bias-based policing.”

The email emphasized that “safety is a shared responsibility” and encouraged community members to report any potentially suspicious activity to UP.

“We don’t want our community to be seen as a ‘police state,’” Graham said. “We want our community to feel open, and for people to feel good when we’re here.”

Twitter: @madsburk