Law enforcement officers graduate crisis intervention training
Thirteen officers from the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Sanford Police Department and Broadway Pol ... (more)
Lee County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Clarence Hill (right), of Lee County, receives his Central Caroli ... (more)
Lee County Sheriff's Office Patrol Lt. David McKee, of Lee County, receives his Central Carolina C ... (more)
Patrolman Douglas Womack, of Harnett County, with the Sanford Police Department, receives his Cent ... (more)
SANFORD - Lee County and the cities of Sanford and Broadway now have a Crisis Intervention Team trained to deal with mental health crisis situations law enforcement officers may encounter.
Thirteen officers from the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Sanford Police Department and Broadway Police Department graduated July 13 from the first Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training offered for law officers in Lee County. The graduation took place at Central Carolina Community College's Emergency Services Training Center.
CIT is a specialized training program utilizing mental health and substance abuse experts, legal experts, consumer/family advocates, and experienced CIT officers. They teach law enforcement officers how to de-escalate volatile situations involving those with mental health disorders. The training is accomplished through role playing, learning about the likely behavior of people experiencing a mental health crisis, listening and interaction skills, hospital emergency room protocols, resources available for the mentally ill, and other information.
"The CIT course is designed to support law enforcement officers in addressing mental health crisis situations, prevent unnecessary incarceration, and get people who need mental health treatment the help they need," said Marilyn Gilliam, co-chair of the Lee Community Action Network (LeeCAN).
The CIT training at the ESTC was a major collaborative effort by LeeCAN, CCCC, Sandhills Center Local Management Entity of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Central Carolina Hospital, Lee County Sheriff's Office, Sanford Police Department, and Broadway Police Department.
Also partnering in the training were local mental health providers: Advance Behavior Center, Inc., Monarch Behavior Services, Johari Family Services, Inc., Family Connexions, Center for Behavioral Healthcare, Hopeful Horizons, VC & Associates, Inc., Daymark Recovery, N.C. Mentor Network, Peace of Mind, and the Lee/Harnett Family Support affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-North Carolina.
"Central Carolina Community College is very appreciative of all those involved in bringing this training to Lee County," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "A Crisis Intervention Team is a tremendous asset to a community and an invaluable resource for improving the quality of life for those suffering from mental illness, their families and others impacted by it."
Phil Hewett, law enforcement liaison for Sandhills Center, coordinated the CIT training at the ESTC.
"Usually, law enforcement officers come into situations and take charge, establishing themselves as authorities," Hewett said, "but skills that work with others tend to escalate the challenge of dealing with someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The de-escalation skills they learn in CIT enable them to come in a more quiet way. It actually gives them more control. It raises their awareness of people they encounter."
The officers completed 40 hours of training during the week of July 9-13 at the ESTC. At the graduation, each received a certificate from CCCC's Continuing Education Department certifying the completion of the program.
The graduates also received CIT pins to wear on their uniforms, identifying them as being specially trained to work with persons having a psychiatric crisis. These officers can be called for backup in incidents requiring their expertise.
Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive was the keynote speaker for the graduation.
"When you go into a situation, your judgment means everything," she told the graduating class. "This training is so important. It shows your commitment to your job."
The graduates were very impressed with what they learned in the program.
"This training helps us in law enforcement," said Deputy Garland Coffer of the Lee County Sheriff's Office. "Now, instead of jail or taking someone to the hospital for evaluation, we have the professional help available that knows how to provide for their needs. It makes me more confident about situations and how to handle them and get the people help."
Debby Dihoff, executive director of NAMI's North Carolina chapter, said that the goal is to have CIT training in all of the state's counties. This is being accomplished not only by voluntary CIT training such as the 13 officers completed, but also by including CIT training in the Basic Law Enforcement Training program offered by member colleges of the N.C. Community College System, including CCCC.
Those receiving their CIT certification were: Lee County Sheriff's Office Deputy Christopher Amundson, Deputy Garland Coffer, Deputy Adam Kindle, Deputy Matthew Watson, Cpl. Clarence Hill, and Patrol Lt. David McKee, all of Lee County; Sanford Police Department Patrolmen Patrick Carroll, Patrolman Daniel Henningsen, and Officer Garrett Jones, all of Lee County, and Patrolmen Michael Little and Patrolman Douglas Womack, both of Harnett County; and Broadway Police Department Patrolman Roy Knight, of Lee County, and Patrol Officer Michael Nelson, of Harnett County.
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