Oxford Police officer recognized for actions that saved a life

Officers statewide will receive Crisis Intervention Teams training, to help those dealing with a mental health crisis

OXFORD, MISS. (WCBI) – Mississippi Department of Mental Health Executive Director Wendy Bailey wanted to present this certificate in person, to Oxford Police Officer Roman Sones.

“Here is a person alive today because the officer had been trained in CIT, and knew techniques,” Bailey said.

Officer Sones went through the Crisis Intervention Teams training within the past six months.  It teaches officers how to de-escalate situations involving people having a mental health crisis.

Law enforcement often has the first contact with people going through a mental health crisis.

Sones, a school resource officer, was on his way to the gym on December 19th, when he heard a call about a possible suicidal person, at the Oxford Parking Garage.   He was nearby, so he responded.

“When I got to the top of the parking garage, I found the vehicle that was described through dispatch, someone was standing outside, leaning against the edge, they appeared to be in distress. It seemed like emotions were initially very high, but as we were talking the longer, they felt more like people do care and there was an alternative, cause when I initially got there they said this was the only way,” Officer Sones said.

Officer Sones walked the subject to the ambulance and learned they were seeking help.  It is a textbook case of how CIT Training is supposed to work.

Last year, the Legislature passed House Bill 1222, which mandates that all law enforcement agencies have at least one CIT-trained officer.

“For CIT training they have to be trained by 2025, and there’s also mental health first aid for public safety training, for all law officers and we have eight years to conduct that.  That way we know all officers in the state will have received some mental health training,” Bailey said.

Oxford PD is ahead of the game with many officers having already completed the training.

“Reality is, we want every officer to go through it.  It is a tool in your toolbox, we have all these things to make our job more efficient, it’s the same thing with learning how to deal with people struggling with a mental crisis, if I don’t have those tools I may not be able to serve you the best.  Just like we want people to know how to tactically drive we want them to know how to respond in a crisis,” said Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen.

Officer Sones says the reason he got into police work in the first place was to help people and he is glad there are additional resources like CIT training to help him protect, serve, and save lives.

HB 1222 also provided funding for the CIT training.   The training is provided through local mental health agencies.

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