Nine Alexandria police officers and eight deputy sheriffs graduated from the Crisis Intervention Team’s training academy last week.
The Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office developed the Crisis Intervention Team through a partnership with the city's Department of Mental Health.
"Over the last few years, the criminal justice and mental health systems have come together in Alexandria to create a variety of programs and approaches to help divert persons with mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into the treatment system," said Liz Wixson, director Clinical and Emergency Services at Alexandria's Department of Community and Human Services. "CIT is a critical facet of our work, in that police officers are very often the first to come into contact with a person experiencing a crisis. Providing them with the knowledge and tools to know how to effectively intervene in these challenging situations has already shown outstanding results. Programs like ours increase referrals into the treatment system and away from the criminal justice system and too, improve officer and citizen safety."
A Crisis Intervention Team is comprised of skilled and trained police officers who are also part of the regular police patrol. These officers receive 40 hours of specialized training to recognize 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.
Officers-in-training also participate in role playing exercises based on real-life scenarios and visit mental health and substance abuse in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities.
CIT is based on a model developed by the Memphis Police Department in 1988 following a police shooting of a mentally ill person. The program has since been adopted in communities in 45 states.
Graduates shown in the accompanying photo:
Bottom Row Left to Right
Officer Mike Rossiter, Officer Darryl Ferrer, Officer Nick Esposito, Officer Jeff Huntington, Officer Joseph Kirby
Middle Row Seated Left to Right
Officer Cynthia Hurley, Deputy Sergeant Felicia Mensah, Deputy Teneka King, Deputy Nora Jones, Deputy Audrey Eskridge, DCHS Therapist Dr. Cheryl Paulhus
Back Row Left to Right
Sergeant Courtney Ballantine, DCHS Emergency Services Supervisor Jon Teumer, Officer Kammy Stern, Officer Mike Rodriguez, Deputy Greg Perez, Deputy Isaac Lovitt, Officer John Eliff, Proabtion and Parole Kim Settle, Officer Charlie Lloyd, Probation and Parole Chris Cahill, DCHS Director of Clinical and Emergency Services Liz Wixson, Undersheriff Tony Davis, Deputy Chief Hassan Aden
Not Pictured: DCHS Detox Supervisor Jennifer Miller