Police urge lawmakers to reinstate funding for mental health services

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - If you have a problem with a co-worker or family member who may have a mental illness, police must be specially trained to recognize that issue.

All Cook County Sheriff's Police and some Chicago Police have undergone additional training to assess whether a person has a mental illness.

However, the proposed Illinois budget slashes $82 million dollars in state mental health services, including special training for police.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says getting those with mental illness help and preventing them from going over the edge, comes down to training.

"With a more thoughtful approach," Dart said, "we're able to intervene, identify what the issue is, get them in a hospital and get them in there for a period of time so they can be treated appropriately."

As of July 1st, funding for officers to receive this special training was cut by the state.

Sheriff Dart and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago have urged lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner to reinstate the funding.

“Further delay is unacceptable, because it means incarceration will rise for individuals living with mental illness,” said Alexa James, Executive Director of NAMI Chicago.