City of Alexandria, VA
Crisis Intervention Team
What is CIT?
The Alexandria Police Department developed the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) through a partnership with the Alexandria Community Services Board, Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Fire Department, Department of Code Administration, and Department of Emergency Communication. A Crisis Intervention Team is comprised of highly skilled and specially trained first responders who function as part of the regular work force. Through their training, these first responders receive 40 hours of specialized training in the recognition of psychiatric disorders, suicide intervention, substance abuse issues, verbal de-escalation techniques, the role of the family in the care of a person with mental illness, and legal training in mental health and substance abuse issues. In addition to classroom instruction, they also participate in role playing exercises based on real-life scenarios and spend an entire day visiting mental health and substance abuse inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities where they have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one dialogue with mental health consumers, and learn about resources available to help people in crisis.
CIT is based on a model developed by the Memphis Police Department in 1988 following a Police shooting of a mentally ill person, and it has since been adopted in communities in 45 states. The training is designed to educate and prepare first responders who come into contact with people with mental illnesses to recognize the signs and symptoms of these illnesses and to respond effectively and appropriately to individuals in crisis. Since first responders are often the first to arrive at these incidents, it is essential that they understand how mental illnesses can alter people's behaviors and perceptions. The trained CIT graduate is skilled at de-escalating crises involving people with mental illness, while bringing an element of understanding and compassion to these difficult situations.
Sergeant Courtney Ballantine, CIT Coordinator, Law Enforcement, 703.746.6612
Jonathan Teumer, Emergency Services Team Leader, 703.746.3563
In the News
View previous graduates from the CIT Program.
2012 CIT Awards
DEC Employee of the Year
Ms. Teresa Smith has served as the Department of Emergency Communications’ liaison with the CIT program from the very beginning. Never hesitating in her enthusiasm and commitment to the program, she was the first DEC employee to be trained in CIT. Shortly after receiving her CIT training, Ms. Smith volunteered to become a CIT trainer and completed Alexandria’s Train-the- Trainer course in February 2011. She was a key member of the work group that developed Alexandria’s CIT dispatcher training, designed to help 911 dispatchers recognize the signs of mental illness, de-escalate callers in crisis, and know when to dispatch a CIT patrol officer. All Alexandria 911 operators have been trained in CIT, thanks to Ms. Smith’s dedication and steadfast commitment. Her involvement with CIT has proven invaluable for her Department and indeed, to all first responding agencies. Ms. Smith is a 15 year veteran with the City of Alexandria and currently serves as the Quality Assurance Coordinator for the Department of Emergency Communications. In addition to her CIT involvement, she also serves as a Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM) member, helping support her colleagues after traumatic incidents.
Deputy of the Year
Lt. John Kapetanis is a 32 year veteran with the Alexandria Sheriff ’s Office. He has served in several assignments within the Office and is currently the Operations Commander of the Judicial Services Division (Courthouse/Civil Process) based at the Alexandria Courthouse. Lt. Kapetanis is a graduate of Alexandria’s first 40-hour CIT course, held in June 2010. Immediately upon graduation, he put CIT to use, working with members of the public within the Courthouse and in the field. He regularly notices when a citizen is exhibiting signs of stress and/or mental illness and works to engage these persons in ways that are supportive and non-confrontational, yet firm and clear. He is a frequent caller to the Emergency Services’ staff at DCHS, consulting on cases, seeking input, and working collaboratively to ensure that persons receive necessary treatment. Lt. Kapetanis is known throughout the Courthouse as “the one” to call for help when a person is exhibiting behavioral health symptoms; he’s well respected throughout the City’s criminal justice and behavioral health systems.
Officer of the Year
Officer Bennie Evans received numerous nominations for this award, from Police Department colleagues, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff ’s Office, and from staff at the Department of Community and Human Services. Not only was Officer Evans nominated for his extraordinary commitment and passion for working with the City’s homeless population, but also for his ongoing efforts as a CIT trainer. He graduated from the first CIT class in 2010 and became a CIT trainer shortly thereafter. In addition, he was part of the Alexandria delegation that attended the National CIT Conference in September 2011, and he is a highly convincing role-player in each CIT class. One example of Officer Evans’ dedication to the City’s homeless population is his work with an individual with very serious and persistent mental health and medical diagnoses. Despite multiple attempts by a number of departments to reach out and help, this citizen remained very ill and homeless for years, unable to accept the help of many who offered. He was well known to the treatment and criminal justice systems and sadly, was often incarcerated due to symptoms of his severe mental illness. Through his repeated supportive, non-judgmental and report-building interventions, Officer Evans was able to intervene in a way that no one else could and despite the doubts of many, this gentleman was eventually able to accept help. Officer Evans visited him in the hospital, attended city-wide meetings to discuss his care, and never gave up hope. Thanks in large part to Officer Evans and his unwavering support of this gentleman, he is now off the streets in permanent housing, is no longer cycling in and out of the criminal justice system, and is receiving help for his mental health and medical problems. As one colleague wrote, “Officer Evans appears to have done what no one else could.”
Intervention of the Year
While many citizens have benefited from Officer Joe Kirby’s masterful use of CIT skills, one intervention in particular highlights his effectiveness and compassion, and is the reason he is chosen for this award.
February 4-8, 2013
June 3-7, 2013