Twenty-Nine Graduate from Partners’
Crisis Intervention Team Training in Cleveland County
Shelby, NC – Thirty law enforcement officers, probation and parole officers, and Emergency Medical Technicians graduated on April 29, 2016, from Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training coordinated by Partners Health Management.
Participants from Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland County Probation and Parole, Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, Kings Mountain Police Department, Lincolnton Police Department, Lincolnton Emergency Medical Services, and Shelby Police Department completed 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. “Years ago, you just arrested them and took them to the hospital,” Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said about responding to individuals experiencing mental health issues or disabilities. “Now we have better options to get them to help.
All three commanding officers believe this training is an essential facet of their departments’ relationships with the community and citizens they serve because it focuses on humanizing and understanding the issues individuals are facing. The officers come away with more than just the ability to recognize a crisis and refer to a list of resources, explained Shelby Chief of Police Jeff Ledford, “they take away compassion, and that is huge.”
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. Other components of the training include role-playing exercises sensory experiences, and presentations.
In the past three years, Partners has developed strong relationships with local law enforcement, probation and parole, and EMS agencies to share resources and collaborate on community health and safety programs. The CIT training program is now a priority for these partners, not because of the changes the supervisors see in their staff, but because of the changes the graduates see in themselves. “We have all come across an officer who is not big on the idea of attending this training.” Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger told the assembled graduates. “And they always come back to tell us it is some of the best training they ever had, and the day they are able to connect an individual with help using this training it all becomes worth it”, said Cloninger.
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.