On Friday, December 7, six Alexandria police department employees graduated from the Crisis Intervention Team’s 10th 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 Matt O’Malley, Bobby Taylor, Bart Bailey, Michael Joyce, Ed Dougherty and Robert McMullen. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office graduated Ceaena Lewis, Desha Hall-Winstead, Lori Kaplan and LaTanya Ervin. The Alexandria Fire Department graduated Ray Whatley.
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.