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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department has a new requirement for officers.

Every officer in the department will be required to complete a two and a half-day “Intro to Crisis Intervention” course. The course will teach the basics of what a member of the Crisis Intervention Team does daily, according to Chief Rick Smith, who added the requirement.

Smith said the department created the team in 2010. In a new blog post he writes, officers on the team have spent the past decade working with a group of people suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues to help them get the resources while working to keep them out of the criminal justice system.

Last year alone, CIT officers responded to 675 calls, even during the pandemic, according to the department. The chief said officers made 464 follow-up visits and had an additional 449 interactions with people who were homeless to help them get housing.

At this point, Kansas City’s Police Department said it has one squad, but needs more. According to the post, Smith hopes the added training will help even more officers help people in the community without overwhelming the current CIT unit.

Being CIT-certified requires a full 40-hour course. The shorter option has been developed by KCPD in collaboration with CIT International. KCPD Major Darren Ivey serves on the executive of the organization’s committee.

9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers who work for the department also have extensive CIT training, according to Smith.