Bedford police take training to better handle mental health calls

There have been 175 mental health calls so far in 2019

BEDFORD, Va. – Police in Bedford are taking steps to be proactive when dealing with people who have mental health issues.​​

Police Chief Todd Foreman said officers have completed a One Mind Campaign pledge.

It's a commitment to improve the way they respond to calls regarding mental health issues.

Officers take a 40-hour-long crisis intervention training taught by staff at Lynchburg's Horizon Behavioral Health.

Officers are put in scenarios and taught to properly respond.

"For us, it's about keeping them safe. They're in crisis with mental health issues. We want to keep them safe, the citizens of the town safe and have our officers safe and have us all have a successful outcome," Foreman said.

Foreman said that, in 2018, Bedford police received 375 calls related to mental health. So far in 2019, police have received 175 calls, he said.

"It's just had such an impact on giving them some confidence and comfort with the education they're provided," said Debra Jefferson, a crisis intervention team assessment coordinator for Horizon Behavioral Health.

Roanoke County police have also completed the One Mind Campaign.