Early this month I attended the annual speaker meeting of NAMI Fairfield, a very strong affiliate in Connecticut. Our guests? Members of the local police force, one of its eight officers trained so far (as of the end of this month) for the CIT (Crisis Intervention Team).
Here a few things I learned:
- All Police Academy graduates have had some training in Crisis Intervention. The CIT-trained officers, however, are have advanced knowledge and skills. Kind of like getting the heart specialist instead of the general practice doctor.
- Police Officers really do care, and want to prevent crime rather than have to make arrests after the fact.
- Police force hires only about 1% of those who apply. Wow.
- Those with mental/emotional needs 7 times more likely to encounter law enforcement
- CIT Actions now include follow-up with the families after an incident to gather key info and make sure they know about resources. Many are unaware of support groups and other places for info/help.
- Families can pre-register information for the CAD (Computer Aided Database) in case of future incidents.
- “No one likes to make arrests.”
- CIT Training helps us all. And these officers deserve our thanks. I know, personally, that without the empathy and understanding police officers showed when Ben was confused and symptomatic, his current life might be very different. Officers in the know took him to the hospital, took the time to call me for information, and handled Ben with respect and care. Thank you.
- Any dollars spent on CIT Training saves lots of taxpayer dollars later. Untreated mental illness has a much higher cost, financially and emotionally, than treated mental illness. Ask my son, who is earning a salary instead of costing the state money for a long-term stay in a nursing home. Prevention works, and saves lives.