Farmington Hills PD first in Michigan to train all officers in mental health

The Farmington Hills Police Department and its chief were honored on Thursday for being the first law enforcement agency in Michigan to have all of its sworn officers and dispatchers complete mental health training.

"It was a great honor, but I don’t want this to be about me," said Police Chief Jeff King. "They’re the ones going out on the frontlines, and they’re dealing with these situations day in and day out."

More than 100 officers, dispatchers, and cadets underwent a two-day training session focusing on verbal and non-verbal communication techniques to de-escalate crises – including domestic incidents and road rage encounters.

"We respond to about 425 mental health petitions on average, annually. That's not to say that that is the rate for calls for service that involve some component of mental health," King said. "These are dangerous, fragile situations that can go really bad, really quick. And our officers, the men and women of the Farmington Hills Police Department, are the best-trained in the state right now."

Officer Maddy Kean said she plans to implement what she learned on patrol. 

"I think the key things that I took away from this training is be patient with people. You never know what anybody’s going through," she said. "It could be a really hard time for them."

Participating in the training was not protocol, but for Kean, it was personal.

She lost her brother to suicide about six years ago.

"I don’t want anybody to have to lose their loved one due to a mental health crisis," Kean said. "And if I can – number one, make it better, or number two, impact the family in a positive way – that’s what I’m going to do."

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards hosted the training, alongside Cardinal Group II – which is a training service. 

The commission says 1,500 people statewide have been trained so far.

"I think everybody knows, or everybody has experienced in some way that there’s people that have mental health crises," said Leon Boyer, the section manager of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

The goal is to get 100% of Michigan police officers to complete the mental health training.

"We want to keep that going forward," King said. "We want that to spread throughout the law enforcement community because it’s about the law enforcement community serving the public and the citizens to keep them safe."