The 2014 Round of CIT Training for Police
Every year for the last twelve years, the SE Ohio CIT Committee, of which NAMI is a part, has run a five-day Crisis Intervention Training program for area law enforcement officers and other first responders. Designed to teach SE Ohio officers to recognize persons in mental health crises and get them to help rather than jail, our award-winning program had trained around 280 people as of last year’s course. This year, during the second week of November, we trained another 30, bringing the grand total to nearly 310.
Our CIT program differs from many other CIT programs in that it is designed for the rural setting with small departments. Unlike the situation in urban areas where the objective is to train CIT teams for an individual departments in order that there is always a team available to send to a mental health call, ours must try to train all officers from a wide number of departments in order that – at any moment – a CIT officer is available. This year we trained first responders from nineteen different entities ranging from police and sheriff’s departments to university and college police to jail and correctional facilities, to police from a hospital and a mental hospital.
Another interesting aspect of our training is the fact that we encourage groups from outside our catchment to send teams to be trained in order that they can return to their area and start a program of CIT training. In 2008, we trained a group from Northern Idaho consisting of sheriff deputies and members of NAMI Far North. These CIT graduates then ran the first CIT classes in in Idaho and from there, CIT spread throughout the state. This year we trained a similar group from Washington County, Ohio. Their intent is to institutionalize CIT in that county.
From the beginning, NAMI has had two roles in CIT Training:
- We are the non-profit organization which handles the money contributed by the 317 Board, NAMI Ohio, other sources, as well as NAMI Athens, itself.
- Our NAMI is in charge of organizing the consumer and family components of the CIT experience. This component has always featured family and consumer panels – the latter composed of individuals in recovery from the major mental illnesses.
The consumer panel featured individuals in sound recovery from borderline, schizoaffective and bipolar disorders.
The primordial purpose of the consumer and family input is to show the police that mental illness effects good people and that the agitated and confrontational “offenders” in a mental health crisis – about ten percent of their calls – deserve their respect and compassion.