LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department is undergoing a special Crisis Intervention Training that helps officers deescalate tense situations and focuses on dealing with inmates who have mental health.
The department said they have 1300 inmates and that 45 percent of those inmates are under some form of psychiatric medication.
Sheriff Kelly Rowe said the high number of inmates with mental illness should send a message.
“Unfortunately we have to just stop and recognize the simple truth: The jails across this country have become our de facto mental institutions,” he said.
He said it’s important that the department is doing the training because inmates with mental illnesses can unintentionally create dangerous situations.
“What we are doing is we are getting the staff better tools and better training to recognize understand what these different diagnoses mean,” he said. “What [we can] potentially do in order to try to manage these individuals better while they are incarcerated in our facilities and ultimately keep everybody much more safe.”
Salome Lopez, Commander at the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, is going through the CIT training and also works at a mental health facility.
She said empathizing with inmates with mental illnesses is key.
“You kind of think of yourself and what if I was not in the right state of mind, how would I want to be treated,” she said. “I would still want to be treated as a person with some type of dignity.”