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CIT 2019 Training for Police

The 2019 Round of CIT Training for Police

Nov. 18-22, 2019

Every year for the last sixteen 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, to deescalate, and get them to help rather than jail, our award-winning program had trained 399 people as of last year’s course. This year, we trained another 16, bringing the grand total to 415.


CIT 2019 Graduating Class. Back: Troy Smith, Richard Drake, Edwin Downs, Rick Trask, Dylon Burson, Jason White, Jared Russell, George Howell; Middle: Aaron MonBeck, Jessica Trask, Stephen Noftz, Kolby Rogers, Anthony Dixon; Front: Kerestan North, Lynetta Lyon, Tyler Hicks, Bryce Chesser, Margaret Sterling, Commander David Malawista.

The Athens NAMI 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 individual departments in order that there is always a team available to send to a mental health call, ours must try to train as many officers as possible from a wide number of departments in order that – at any moment – a CIT officer is available on duty from the department called upon. This year, we trained first responders from different entities ranging from police and sheriff’s departments to university and college police to jail and correctional facilities to emergency squad and fire departments. Three of this year’s class were women.


Commander David Malawista (APD) and Margaret Sterling (Hopewell) lecturing. Photo by Diane Pfaff.


CIT-2019- lecturing-to-group

Captain Bryan Cooper lecturing to group. Photo by Diane Pfaff.

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.
  • Athens NAMI oversees 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.

This year’s Consumer Panel featured individuals in recovery from schizoaffective, borderline personality and bipolar disorders.


Consumer Panel. L-R. Donna Lechleiter (for Bipolar), Tom Walker (Moderator), Christi Hysell (for BPD), and Leigh Ann Maio (for Schizoaffective). photo by Tina Trimmer.

The family panel featured three mothers of consumers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. One of the mothers had, herself, been on the consumer panel minutes before.


Family Panel. L-R. Donna Lechleiter, Tom Walker, Adrienne Nagy, and Mary Patacca. Photo by Tina Trimmer.

As for many years in the past, OU Computer programmer, Milt Greek delivered his ever-popular keynote, “Schizophrenia from the inside out.”


Milt Greek, CIT keynoter on “Schizophrenia from the inside out”

We also had a stand-alone panel, “PTSD from the inside out,” featuring two individuals in sound recovery from very different types of traumatic stress. Vanessa Perkins is in good recovery from childhood sexual abuse and adult sex trafficking. Randy Montgomery is in sound recovery from war-inflicted trauma.


Randy Montgomery and Vanessa Perkins lecturing. Photo by Diane Pfaff

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” first responders encounter in mental health crises – about ten percent of their calls – deserve their respect and compassion.


In the last several years, our CIT Committee has honored a CIT officer for particularly outstanding work s/he did in handling a CIT cases during the previous year. This year’s award winner was Athens Police Department Lieutenant Anthony Fish.


2019 Award winnner, left to right, Chaz Canter, Hopewell Health, Award winner APD Lt. Anthony Fish, Fish’s wife, Michelle, and APD Chief Tom Pyle. Photo by Tina Trimmer.