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Lackey seeks more focus on mental illness training


Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) wants to foster a better assessment of the mentally ill by law enforcement. Consequenty, he’s working with Assemblyman Melissa Melendez of the 67th District (western Riverside County) to secure $15.7 million in funding to train front-line law enforcement officers on how to better interact with people suffering from mental illness.

Lackey’s office said there is an increased recognition statewide that law enforcement’s engagement with mentally ill persons is severely limited because they have received little training in the area. If approved, the funding would be administered by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training and would mandate a minimum of 15 hours of training to be provided to the state’s 72,000 front-line peace officers.

“As a 28-year veteran of law enforcement, I understand how difficult it is for officers to safely deal with a person suffering from mental illness,” Lackey said. “With this funding, families can be confident that police officers have been trained to help identify a mentally ill loved one and react appropriately.”

The Los Angeles Police Department released a study two years ago that showed that more than one-third of persons shot by their officers showed signs of mental illness. The Men’s Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles reportedly houses the largest amount of mentally ill persons than any facility in the county. Additionally, Lackey’s office reported that one out of every 20 people in California suffers from some form of mental illness.