NAMI is involved with award-winning local police trainers, the area ADAMHS Board, and other groups in holding week-long courses designed to train police officers from around Southeastern Ohio to recognize the mentally ill and take them for evaluation and treatment rather than to jail.
CIT training is important not just because it helps persons with mental illness along the road to recovery, but because it often prevents violent outcomes which, in other parts of the country and the state, have lead to the death or injury to persons in crisis and/or the police. Increasingly, where a person in crisis is killed, jurisdictions without CIT are being sued and forced to pay large settlements. Read more. Accordingly, CIT is spreading rapidly throughout the state and country.
In early 2008, Athens’ CIT program was recognized by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and NAMI Ohio as the “CIT Program of the Year.”
As of November 2018, sixteen groups of officers – a total of 399 individuals – have passed through these courses and thousands of persons in crisis with mental illnesses have been taken for help rather than to jail. (Eighty five to 90 % of the individuals taken by CIT-trained police to receive psychiatric evaluation turn out to have a serious mental illness.)
Much of the funding for these programs has come from grants from the local, state, and national NAMI organizations and, in both 2004 and 2009, from grants to NAMI Athens from the Athens Foundation.
Accordingly, starting by 2015, the success of week-long CIT programs for working police and other first responders led to an effort by Attorney General Mike DeWine to put more mental health material in basic police cadet training around the State. That year, the committee updating basic training included a subcommittee on the mental health component. Both APD Reserve Commander David Malawista and NAMI Member Tom Walker were involved. One recommendation of that sub-committee – that panels of consumers and family members be part of basic cadet training – was immediately implemented. Starting in the spring of 2016, all classes of Police Officers Basic Training Academy at Hocking College would feature four-hour sessions in which consumers and family members would discuss how mental illness affects both family members and those directly afflicted.
Stories and pictures from CIT training efforts:
Number of CIT officers trained: Pdf file of the number of officers trained, per geographical area, per year, from 2003 through 2018