Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, a program that helps first-responding law enforcement officers assist individuals with mental illness and addiction in crisis, has proven incredibly successful in de-escalating difficult situations.
Ten individuals from the Glens Falls Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Alternative Sentencing, Warren County Probation, and SUNY Adirondack Public Safety, graduated last week from the specialized program, supported with funding from Adirondack Health Institute.
The intensive, week-long training was conducted by Eric Weaver, a retired 20-year veteran sergeant with the Rochester New York Police Department who created, developed and served as the Commanding Officer of the Emotionally-Disturbed Persons Response Team (EDPRT), a specialized unit that responds to calls for individuals who are mentally ill and suicidal. Weaver provided attendees with tools to recognize psychiatric distress and other conditions, and techniques to help lessen trauma for the individual, avoid officer injuries, and prevent tragedy for the community.
Speaking at the program’s graduation, Glens Falls Police Department Assistant Chief Joseph Boisclair praised the graduates for their commitment, while citing the program’s importance, both for the participants and the local community. “The CIT program helps us all on so many levels. Not only does it help us better understand and empathize with serious mental health issues, it strengthens collaboration between all of our agencies,” said Boisclair. “I’m extremely proud of all of you for taking part in this important initiative.”
Rebecca Evansky, Project Manager for AHI’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Planning Program stated, “Law Enforcement Officers are often the first to respond to emergency calls involving individuals with serious mental health issues, substance use disorders and other challenges. Improving police response in heightened situations such as these is of growing significance in the mental health community and criminal justice system, and Adirondack Health Institute and our partners are pleased to be able to support the implementation of this important endeavor.”
A collaborative effort of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Glens Falls Police Department, Warren-Washington Association for Mental Health, and other area community agencies, the program was hosted by AHI, 820 River Street, Inc., The Baywood Center, and the Office of Community Services for Warren and Washington Counties.