On Friday, June 8, eight Alexandria police department employees graduated from the Crisis Intervention Team’s 8th training academy. A graduation ceremony was held on Friday at 2:30 P.M. at Police Department Headquarters.
The Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office developed the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) through a partnership with the Department of Mental Health. A Crisis Intervention Team is comprised of highly skilled and specially trained police officers who function as part of the regular police patrol. Through their training, these officers 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, officers-in-training 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.
This academy’s graduates from the Alexandria Police Department are Gustavo Paulino, Walter Boyd, Sarah Smith, John Jones, Aloysius Asonglefac, Steve Matthews, Charles Young and Aisha Javed. From the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, the graduates are Lisa James, Richard Hagar, Shawn Buker, Derrick Ramsey, John Triplett and Valerie Wright. From the Alexandria Fire Department, the graduates are John Rule and Kelsea Bonkoski.
The remaining graduates are Kyle Murdock, Pentagon Police, Ronald Beach, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Beth Flaherty, Loudoun County Mental Health, John Catlett, Alexandria Code Enforcement, and Wael Abilmona, Leesburg Police Department.
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 police officers 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. The trained CIT officer is skilled at de-escalating crises involving people with mental illness, while bringing an element of understanding and compassion to these difficult situations.