Special training for mental health crises

Last July, Mike Eckroth, director, Emergency Preparedness, and Matt Daughtry, manager, Deputy Chief of Police, Department of Public Safety, received their CIT Coordinator certification in Kansas City at the CIT International Conference. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training empowers first responders and law enforcement to respond appropriately to calls involving people with mental illness. Matt will return this August to the conference to hear the latest developments with the program and come back with best practices. Here, Mike shares more about the training and what it means for the community.

How did Parkview get involved in CIT training? ​

We started our training program for a few reasons. First, our Parkview police officers encounter mental health crises every day. We wanted them to be better equipped to understand mental health conditions and work effectively with those in crisis to find a safe resolution that results in them getting the help that they need, rather than finding themselves in jail.

Second, many of our community law enforcement partners also wanted to see additional CIT training opportunities to help build their officers’ confidence and tool kit when working with those in a mental health crisis. Fort Wayne Police did a great job for many years offering this training to the community. They have been teaching this internally for the last few years. We identified a gap here and recognized that Parkview has so many resources for our community first responders when it comes to mental health. Partnering with our Parkview Behavioral Health (PBH), Emergency Departments (ED) and other community resources, it seemed like a natural fit for us to pursue hosting CIT training.

What is the purpose of CIT training?

We found helpful definitions on the CIT international website:

“The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families, and other advocates. It is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions access medical treatment rather than place them in the criminal justice system due to illness-related behaviors. It also promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis.

The CIT model, known as the ‘Memphis Model’ was first developed in 1988 and has spread throughout the country. In September 2007 a group of individuals who were dedicated to advancing CIT programs convened in Memphis to develop the Core Elements document. This effort was led by the founders of CIT, Dr. Randy Dupont and Major (retired) Sam Cochran.

It was believed that in order for a CIT program to be successful, several critical core elements should be present. These elements are central to the success of the program’s goals.”

Who will be impacted by CIT training?

​The goal of this training is to equip first responders with the ability to go out in to their communities and successfully respond to a mental health crisis. As more officers volunteer for the training, more patients and families are impacted by this approach.

A CIT officer has the added benefit of understanding mental health at a deeper level than the average officer, and a much better understanding of the community resources available for treating mental health.

Who will receive CIT training?

Our initial class in May had more than 20 officers in attendance from the Parkview Police Department, Allen County Sheriff's Department, Auburn Police, Wabash Police, Dekalb County Jail, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and others. The training was provided for free and open to any area law enforcement agency.

What does the training entail? ​

The training consists of 40 hours of education surrounding mental health conditions, de-escalation, legal principles, available community resources, and site visits to The Carriage House and Parkview Behavioral Health (PBH). In addition, we bring in guest speakers living with mental illness, family members who have been impacted by mental health, as well as other experts in the field to discuss how law enforcement can make a positive impact on the mental health community. We even spend some time simulating a schizophrenic episode for our officers so they truly walk in the shoes of someone with the condition.

Why is special training so important for this population? ​

Mental health is a growing concern for our community and nation at large. Unfortunately, it is often the law enforcement officer who is called in when crisis happens. Increasing the number of trained CIT officers only benefits our community by giving families and those in crisis a responder who is ready to work through the situation and assist in connecting them to our area’s mental health resources.

Parkview is passionate about this training and what it means for the safety of first responders and individuals in a mental health crisis. We want them to feel empowered to respond safely and connect the family and patient with the right resources so they can get the help they need.

 

​If you or a loved one are in mental health crisis, call the Parkview Behavioral Health HelpLine at (260) 373-7500 or (800) 284-8439 or 911 and ask for a CIT officer.

 

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