Police officers are frequently called upon to respond to crisis situations, many times involving persons with serious mental illness. Historically officers who respond to these calls often lack any specialized training or knowledge in dealing with the mentally ill and their families.
During the Month of May, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department will be sending over a dozen deputies, dispatchers and correctional staff to a crisis intervention training. This training commonly is referred to as “CIT”. The CIT, Crisis Intervention Training, consists of 40 hours of training followed by an annual update for members. The CIT program is a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families and other advocates. It is an innovative first-responder model of a police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions access medical treatment rather than place them in the criminal justice system due to illness related behaviors. It promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis. The CIT provides a forum for effective problem solving regarding the interaction between the criminal justice and mental health care system and creates the context for sustainable change.
Partnerships: Law Enforcement, Advocacy, Mental Health
The Mental Health Crisis Response Institute use trained CIT law enforcement trainers to conduct CIT trainings. Daily practical exercises with professional actors are used in the CIT training for realistic experiences to build de-escalation skills.
According to Sheriff Tony Helms, making sure that Camden County’s first responders have the right training, practice, and preparations to de-escalate crisis situations safely and effectively is one of the most essential things that we can do to keep everyone in Camden County safe. These efforts are a part of Sheriff Helm’s commitment to improving emergency response training, and ensuring that those in need of mental health services are getting the care they need most.