New training for DC police aimed at helping those with mental health issues

All D.C. police officers and recruits will receive what the department is calling “new and innovative” training aimed at lowering the temperature in situations involving people dealing with a mental health crisis.

The Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) training program will be taught to “every sworn member” of D.C.’s police department in 2024, according to the department.

“We want our officers to demonstrate empathy, passion and care — but also to not be afraid to take the necessary law enforcement-actions in order to protect our community,” said D.C. police chief Pamela A. Smith, speaking at a news conference held at the D.C. police academy’s Tactical Training Center in Southwest on Monday.

“The goal of ICAT is not to eliminate police-uses of force, but to provide our officers additional skills that allow them to handle a range of critical incidents safely and successfully,” Smith said.

The ICAT training will be folded into the department’s overall curriculum for every new recruit officer that comes through the D.C. police academy, in collaboration with D.C.’s Department of Behavioral Health.

The 16-hour training, designed by the Police Executive Research Forum, “has resulted in reduction of force incidents … and injuries in major cities across the country,” according to the department.

ICAT is already being administered to 120 law enforcement agencies across 30 states, according to D.C. police.

The department said the training will supplement training that began last year, “in which every officer has completed a two-day mental health first aid training or been certified as a Crisis Intervention Officer.”

A recording of the news conference is available on YouTube.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up