LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Often times, police officers find themselves interacting with people suffering from mental illness. That’s why Louisville Metro Police recruits take Crisis Intervention Training classes before they get handed their badges.

About two dozen LMPD recruits spent Thursday at The Brook Hospital learning the skills to handle real-life issues dealing with mental illness.

After learning about various mental health disorders throughout the week, the next step was to put that knowledge to the test with real life scenarios.

The scenes range from a person wanting to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge to a bipolar woman having a manic episode at a grocery store.

"It's actually real life. It’s important to show that, hey, this person needs help,” said CIT instructor Sgt. Pam Oberhausen. “I need to make sure that I show patience, I give them space if they're venting or they need to vent, because I don't know what the process is that’s going on with them right now, and I need to find that out."

The exercises are the closest thing to real-life situations. In fact, all of the training scenarios involve situations that have happened to officers in the past.

“If you make them as realistic as possible, you're going to get the best training value as possible out of them,” Oberhausen said.

While the exercises are non-physical, the training helps prepare officers for violent situations where they may have to use force.

"Even though I'm having to take someone into custody, I may have to take them to the ground with a maneuver, or I may have to put handcuffs on them. It doesn't mean I have to diminish the fact they're still mentally ill," said CIT instructor Sgt. Tim Stokes.

CIT instructors add mental illness is never an excuse, especially when another life is threatened.

"This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card," Oberhausen said. "You don't get to victimize people either and then expect to throw up a mental illness card and say, 'Hey I'm mentally ill.'"

But the goal of the training is to always learn how to help the person in crisis.

"We want to make sure that if you need help, we're going to get you help," Oberhausen said. "That's the bottom line."

Since 2003, all LMPD recruits have to go through CIT classes in order to become officers.

Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.