ST. LOUIS — Many police officers here in the St. Louis area are specially trained to deal with people who have mental health issues.
Sgt. Gary Robertson with St. Louis County police said crisis intervention training is more important now than ever before.
“Calls for service for people with mental health crisis are constantly increasing,” he said.
And it's his job to make sure officers can handle it.
For the last six months, he's been the coordinator of the crisis intervention team. He's responsible for training officers how to recognize people with mental health disorders and de-escalate situations accordingly.
“And we determine basically, how can we make contact with this individual, build a relationship with them and then offer different resources and services to them to make sure that they don't fall through the cracks,” he said.
It's what he does every day and Thursday, when we learned a former marine killed 12 people in California months after police responded to his own behavioral crisis.
"We have to do better,” Robertson said.
Robertson offers additional training for understanding veterans on service calls. He wears his own Air Force experience on his uniform.
"I can use that to help build that relationship and build that rapport with a veteran and say hey I may not know what you're going through right now, but I was a veteran,” he said. "It's about really being able to make a difference."
Nearly half of the county’s 1,000 officers have CIT training. The goal is to make sure all patrol officers, the first ones to respond to 911 calls, have the training.