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Thirty Graduate from Seventh Partners’ Crisis Intervention Team Training in Gaston County

Gastonia, NC – Thirty Gaston County law enforcement officers, probation and parole officers, and dispatchers graduated on March 18, 2016 from Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training coordinated by Partners Health Management.

Andrew Schrag, Regional Director of Community Operations for Partners, thanks the graduates during commencement on Friday afternoon.

Participants from Cherryville Police Department, Gastonia Police Department, Gaston County Police Department, Gaston County Probation and Parole, Gaston County Sheriff’s Office Bessemer City Police Department, and participated in the forty-hour training.

CIT provides law enforcement officers and first responders the skills and knowledge needed to de-escalate the situation during a mental health crisis. Officers receive specialized training in mental illness and crisis techniques, and learn about treatment options that may better serve individuals. “We all have been in situations where we knew jail was not the best place for them, but we didn’t know what the problem was or what other options were around. Now we know,” said one of the officers.

CIT consists of both classroom time and trips to community programs that provide services to consumers. Graduates visited many of the behavioral health treatment centers in the area to gain a better understanding of the resources available for individuals needing help. Partners thanks Carolina Center for Counseling and Clinical Services, Gaston Skills, CaroMont Health Psychiatric Unit and Emergency Department, and Life Choices Vocational Program for their commitment to strengthening our communities. Other components of the training include role-play exercises sensory experiences, and presentations.

Graduates Cynthia Francis and Dell Scott Garren of Cherryville PD; Amber Chavis, Jennifer Banas, Jovan White, Angela Osborne, Ralph Jefferies, Cindy Ulibarri, Vanessa Rojas, James Sparrow, Morgan Calhoun, and Scot Bryant of Gaston County Probation & Parole; Jeffrey McLeymore, Donnie L. Baynard, Michael Watkins, and Thomas Jackson of Gaston County Sheriff’s Office; Laura Biggerstaff, Juan Sepulveda, Brandon Broome, Zachary Lechette, Nerissa Armstrong, Charles Nelson, Brian Atkins, Matthew Willis, and Cody Huffstetler of Gastonia PD, Dispatchers Sherry Hopper and James Wilson, and officers Heather Lloyd, Andrew Rogers, and Gregory Ivester of Gaston County PD, pose for a group photo.

The curriculum developed initially by the Memphis, TN Police Department and now used nationwide, educates officers about a variety of mental illnesses, addictive diseases, and developmental disabilities. The program teaches participants to respond to mental health crises, help individuals receive timely care, and develop collaborations between law enforcement and community mental health agencies. “I am pleased these students interacted across departments and shared contact information,” said one of the commanding officers. “When the lack of resources prevents us from training everyone at once, we encourage these folks to rely in each other, while we rely on them to train their fellow officers who have not had the training.”

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