First of two parts
BY STEVE MYRUM
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported on Jan. 29 about Mayor Marian Orr’s State of the City address in which Orr stated the following: “The police department also began the ‘One Mind’ project, which recognizes the ties between homelessness and mental illness and attempts to provide ‘the right kind of help.’”
The One Mind Project is described by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as:
“The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected
“These practices include: establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with a community mental health organization; developing a model policy to implement police response to persons affected by mental illness; training and certifying sworn officers and selected non-sworn staff in mental health first aid training or other equivalent mental health awareness course; and providing crisis intervention team training.”
It’s important to note that the One Mind Project does not specifically address police response to mental illness and the homeless. The project addresses police response to persons with mental illness, of which one in four Americans (26 percent), in any given year, are being treated with a diagnosable mental disorder.
Homeless people with mental disorders also follow the national norm for all citizens with mental disorders at 25-26 percent, meaning our homeless are no more or less affected by mental disorders than citizens with stable, permanent housing.
In 2018, Cheyenne police officers responded to approximately 28,000 citizen requests for services. While recognizing that a percentage of these calls would be from the same caller, for instance a business reporting shoplifting, the opportunity presented itself that police interacted with 7,000 Cheyenne citizens diagnosed with a mental disorder.
This is not an insignificant number, especially when you consider that the Cheyenne Police Department reported 86,363 calls for service when you also factor officer-initiated contacts.
The One Mind Project, and especially the Cheyenne Police Department’s adoption and implementation of the project, is a positive step forward for community policing. Having our police officers involved with Cheyenne’s mental health community will better address and understand the issues of mental health as it affects the community of Cheyenne as a whole, not simply our homeless population.
Next up: Policing a transient population requires a cultural change in policing.
Steve Myrum is a Cheyenne resident.