An initiative in the Cheektowaga Police Department seeks to promote a better understanding of people affected by mental illness.
"One Mind," sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, develops safe management practices for police when dealing with the emotionally ill.
"The whole idea is to try and get people care and treatment as opposed to incarceration," said Assistant Chief James Speyer. "In a lot of instances, this program will prevent them from being committed involuntarily."
Cheektowaga police will partner with Crisis Services of Erie County to provide 20 percent of the force with an intensive 40-hour training. Those officers will work different shifts to ensure that mental health calls can be safely handled all hours of the day. The remaining staff will receive eight hours of instruction.