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Officers to join crisis teams

Mecklenburg County officials will announce Tuesday the creation of a new Crisis Intervention Team that will help law enforcement better identify and handle people with mental illness.

Under the program, selected officers will be trained on how to identify mental health concerns, use verbal skills to de-escalate a crisis situation, and direct people to appropriate treatment, the county said in a news release. The first officers will be trained during the week of Aug. 25.

The Crisis Intervention Teams will be a joint effort between Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health, the Sheriff's Office and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Charlotte.

Earlier this year, Area Mental Health launched a diversion program for repeat offenders who have a history of mental illness. Officials said at the time they were interested in creating the crisis teams.

Communities across the country have launched the teams in recent years. Wake County started its crisis intervention team in 2005, and officers there use training to help determine whether a person showing signs of mental illness should go directly to jail or to a mental crisis and treatment center.

Mecklenburg officials will talk more about the crisis teams at a news conference set for 9 a.m. Tuesday. Speakers include Sheriff Chipp Bailey and Grayce Crockett, director of Area Mental Health.