In the course of their work, Mississippi Highway Patrol officers encounter people of all walks of life, with all sorts of problems.
And because some of those problems may endanger the safety of citizens and officers, members of Troop H learned from a professional Wednesday.
Debbie Ferguson, director of Central Mississippi Residential Center, explained what mental illness is and isn't.
"If they feel like an individual has mental illness and is acutely sick at that moment, the most important thing that they can do is listen and try to determine what's going on," said Ferguson. "Because the individual's going to give you the clues of what you need to do to help diffuse the situation, if you talk to them and you listen to them."
Ferguson says the typical approaches that law enforcement might use in any given situation may not be productive with someone who is mentally ill.