AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday afternoon, Austin Police Department announced that all police officers will now be required to undergo 40 more hours of mental health training on top of the already 40 required during basic training.
According to APD Police Chief Brian Manley, the training will roll out in January and will include classroom lecture and scenario-based training. Areas covered will include state laws, mental health systems, local resources and procedures for psychiatric care.
The training will aim to help officers be able to better identify the signs and symptoms of mental illness, according to Manley, who says the training is an effort to step up and meet demands of the city.
“This will be a significant undertaking as a department,” said Manley. “And full implementation will take us between a year-and-a-half to two years…”
Training will be done during officers’ normal work hours and will be taught in partnership with several local agencies and organizations, the chief says.
“We think this will improve our responses in an ever-growing city,” said Manley.
Additionally, Manley says that every cadet class that comes through the police academy will undergo the new training so that new officers are equipped on day one.
It is not yet known if the new training will affect the stipend current mental health officers receive, but Manley says the definition of the role will be decided in the future.
Manley says the new training will “allow us to better interact with and serve our overall community.”