The Illinois State Bar Association presented its 2014 Law Enforcement Award to Campton Hills Police Chief Dan Hoffman for his work to end mental health stigma in the police force, according to a report in the Kane County Chronicle and republished in the KaneComm 911 July newsletter.
Sixteenth Circuit Court Chief Judge Judith Brawka nominated Hoffman for the award.
“If it wasn’t for law enforcement involvement and understanding as first responders with the mentally ill, tragedies would abound everywhere,” Brawka told the Chronicle.
Hoffman helped develop his department’s Crisis Intervention Team protocols and training for first-responding police in situations of mental illness or emotional conflict, which includes a 40-hour class and redeploying exercises.
Participants learn how to recognize mental health symptoms and deal with them effectively by working with mental health or outpatient facilities if needed. This is done instead of putting the mentally ill into the criminal justice system right away.
“The criminal justice system will just put (the mentally ill) into a circle of despair,” Hoffman said. “Law enforcement, myself included, was not trained (on) how to specifically deal with people with mental health issues. But when you fully train officers, they’ll be able to deal with (the mentally ill) while still doing it in an expeditious fashion.”
The program still is new, and Hoffman said he’s working toward it becoming established throughout all of Kane County.