Published: Oct. 8, 2021

Sunday is World Mental Health Day, and the CU Boulder Police Department (CUPD) is doing its part to live up to the World Health Organization’s slogan for the day, celebrated every Oct. 10: “Mental Health Care for All: Let’s Make it a Reality.” CUPD is among a handful of university police departments across the nation to complete extensive training to become One Mind certified. The certification became official Sept. 1.

The One Mind campaign’s mission is to ensure successful interactions between law enforcement and those with mental health conditions. Just 15 other campus police departments have completed training, which involves establishing a sustainable partnership with at least one community health organization, developing and implementing a policy addressing how law enforcement responds to mental health crises, and training and certifying 100% of sworn officers and select public-facing professional staff. 

In CUPD’s case, a strong partnership with CU Boulder’s Health and Wellness Services was crucial. As was Mental Health First Aid Training, offered within the campus police department by Officer Guillermo Gonzalez.

Officer Guillermo Gonzalez

Officer Guillermo Gonzalez

“This training provides us with awareness and allows us to use different tools to respond to individuals,” Gonzalez said, adding, “We can recognize this person may be in crisis or going through something that motivates this behavior. We can point students to Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) or refer to our embedded CAPS clinician.”

CUPD officers also receive Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. 

“We’re not going to rest on our success here,” said Commander Mark Heyart of CUPD. The department continues to train new employees and newly-commissioned officers, and will seek One Mind recertification in three years.

“It’s so important for our officers and frontline staff to understand how to help people we encounter who may be dealing with mental illness,” said CUPD Chief Doreen Jokerst. “By completing this program, we are confirming our commitment to provide the best service to our community.”

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs police department also recently completed the pledge, becoming One Mind certified. The campaign is organized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, in partnership with grant funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. 

You don’t have to be a member of a campus police department to take advantage of one element of the One Mind training: Mental Health First Aid Training is also regularly offered to the CU Boulder community, including at the upcoming Health and Wellness Summit, taking place Oct. 12–15. The interactive course trains people to recognize mental health issues and connect those experiencing mental health challenges to readily available resources.