Officers train to deal with mentally ill inmates

INDIANAPOLIS - Because more than 25-percent of Marion County's jail population is classified as mentally ill, many officers are required to take a 40-hour program that teaches them how to handle those individuals.

Law enforcement officials said that 1 in 3 Indianapolis Metro Police Department officers have had the Crisis Intervention training. Once the training is completed, officers are better equipped to determine the best course for an individual: treatment or jail.

Metro Police Crisis Intervention Leader Sgt. Robert Hipple said protecting mentally ill inmates from themselves and others is essential.

"If we know someone is being disorderly and we can, instead of making an arrest, get them to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, we can help the ones who need help and lock up those we're afraid of," Hipple said.

That protection comes at a great expense to taxpayers, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported. 

Daily prescription medication for 700 mentally ill inmates is estimated to be $650,000 annually and health care treatment for the mentally ill costs $ 5.4 million annually. Additional security costs $2.6 million annually. The special care and treatment the mentally ill totals more than $8.6 million dollars a year, said Col. Louis Dezelan with the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

"All of this is tied to people who, for the most part, shouldn't be here. We know they have committed serious crimes, but in many cases they did so when they were off their medications," Dezelan said.

The mentally ill who are released from jail don't go into care and treatment without stopping first in Community Court where individuals, with the help from the judge,  can use it as a road to recovery and productivity.

Law enforcement officials estimate that 4 in 10 Indianapolis residents will experience some form of mental health issues at some point during the year, however, the individuals involved in the crisis are usually the last to recognize it.

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