Benson Police Completes One Mind Campaign

Pledge to improve mental health response in community

BENSON – The Benson Police Department has completed a pledge to improve their response to those with a mental health condition in their community. 

The pledge is part of an initiative called the One Mind Campaign, which was started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a professional association for law enforcement that provides training, technical assistance, and recruitment services. To join the One Mind Campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices within a 12–36-month period to ensure successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental health conditions.

In the law enforcement community, people with mental health conditions has become a common focus, with some departments estimating that as many as 20 percent of their calls for service are related to mental health challenges. Benson Police Chief Greg Percy made the decision to join the IACP’s One Mind Campaign to obtain specialized training for the officers, so they would be better equipped to assist those in the Benson community who might be affected by a mental health condition. 

By completing the One Mind Pledge, the Benson Police Department established a sustainable partnership with a local mental health organization, Alliance Behavioral Health; developed and implemented a model policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental health conditions; ensured that all 17 officers and staff received Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety training; and arranged to have at least twenty percent of the department certified in the more intensive Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training.

The 40-hour Crisis Intervention curriculum is designed to train officers to respond to calls that involve individuals with mental health conditions. The curriculum includes education on various de-escalation techniques and live role-play scenarios of officers responding to persons who need mental health assistance.

“We have five officers that are currently certified in CIT, with two more scheduled to attend in a few months,” said Chief Percy. “In addition, we also have three officers who are certified in Veteran’s CIT, which is an additional two-day course. I felt like it was another important tool for the officers to have, given our proximity to nearby military installations, and we plan to send more officers to that as well.”

“All of our officers and staff completed the Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety class, which was provided and instructed by Alliance Behavioral Health, and we all thought it was informative, and certainly beneficial, as we continue our efforts to assist those in our community who may be affected by a mental health condition.”

The Benson Police Department began the process to join the One Mind Campaign in March of 2021, and was awarded membership in February of 2022. They now join sixteen other law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, as members of the IACP One Mind Campaign.