ALABAMA PROFESSOR GETS GRANT FOR MENTAL ILLNESS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE TRAINING FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

Tuscaloosa Police

A University of Alabama professor received a $375,000 grant for the development of training that will help police officers learn the correct ways they should respond to people struggling with mental illness and substance abuse.

Hee Yun Lee works in the School of Social Work and said the training couldn’t come at a better time considering the growing opioid epidemic in this country.

“Sometimes they don’t know how to work with these people, they are sometimes very high and they are really not communicating appropriately, so there’s a lot of you know areas that we have to train these people,” Lee said.

The problem isn’t just a national problem, but also specific to the state of Alabama. Alabama has the highest opioid prescription rate, particularly in northwest Alabama, Lee said. Walker, Franklin, Marion and Winston counties are all highly affected.

The training will begin in seven different stations, all in Tuscaloosa county so they can evaluate its effectiveness before hopefully rolling it out to the entire state.

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