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Crisis intervention training helps police calm woman who interrupted church service

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LADUE, MO (KTVI) - A disturbance call at a local church underscores the importance of specialized crisis intervention training, Ladue Police said.

Saturday evening, a woman in her 60s began shouting during mass at Annunziata Catholic Church on Clayton Road.

“All of the sudden, just in the middle of the mass, she just became unruly,” Ladue Sgt. Greg Stork said.

Police said no one in the congregation recognized the woman. She was originally found in an area not accessible to parishioners, police said.

Three officers with the Ladue Police Department responded to the call and the woman was escorted to the department next door without incident, Stork said. She was eventually transported to an area hospital.

Stork could not elaborate on the woman’s condition, but he said crisis intervention training played a key role in officers’ response.

“They're trained for people that are in crisis. They know the questions to ask. They know people to contact, to help when people are in crisis. It's invaluable," he said.

Mental health-based organizations agree CIT, or Crisis Intervention Team training, is important.

Tom Duff, executive director of Catholic Family Services, says one detail about the woman stands out.

“She turned to a church,” Duff said.

Duff said it is crucial to recognize the underlying issues behind any type of unusual behavior.

"A lot of times they're reaching out. They're looking for help. And so that's where it's important as a community, that we answer that,” he said. "Is it financial assistance? Is it emotional assistance? Is it mental health?"

Stork said all officers with the Ladue Police Department will be certified as CIT by the end of the year.