Police recruits will get three more hours of mental health training

By Andrea Damewood, Willamette Week, Dec. 5, 2012

Portland’s police aren’t the only ones beefing up mental health training.

The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training—where all new police recruits get basic training—recently approved adding three hours of mental health training.

The change adds three hours to mental health and disabilities classes, bringing the total amount new cops spend on the topic over the 16-week course to 15 hours.

The time, according to a DPSST summary of changes, “will allow instructors to spend more time stressing additional situations that have been arising in communities dealing with mental health.”

The board approved the changes at its Oct. 25 meeting, about five weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice demanded that Portland police improve their handling of the mentally ill. (Police in Portland receive 40 hours a year of mental health training; a new Crisis Intervention Team will get additional training above that and respond to mental health crisis calls when possible).

However, DPSST director Eriks Gabliks tells WW that the changes at the state level “are not related to PPB but the larger role public safety agencies are playing in this important area across the nation.”

The DPSST changes also made an auto theft investigation course optional, as well as added another section on ethics and professionalism.