Training to Help Those Suffering a Behavioral Crisis Expanded to Help Inmates
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Developmental Services (MHSADS) graduated twenty deputies and one mental health professional on January 16 from the from the first-ever Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training hosted specifically for deputies assigned at the Adult Detention Center in Loudoun County.
The collaborative program joined the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Courts and Corrections Division; Loudoun County MHSADS; Friends of Loudoun Mental Health; the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Northern Virginia; the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney; the Wounded Warrior Program; Mobile Hope; and Retired Col. Scot Campbell in an effort to allow mentally ill persons to receive necessary treatment to become stabilized and work toward recovery. The program is designed to promote positive interaction between law enforcement and persons in crisis and reduce injuries to deputies and persons suffering from mental illness.
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, recognizing the number of incidents involving mental health issues occurring both in the community and within the Adult Detention Center, pushed to expand the crisis intervention training he helped implement in 2012. “We recognized approximately 20% of our ADC population suffers from diagnosed mental illness but the true number of inmates suffering from mental illnesses is likely even greater,” said Sheriff Chapman.
The CIT training helps prepare law enforcement officers, on patrol and in the ADC, as well as emergency dispatchers to calmly and effectively communicate with citizens experiencing a behavioral crisis. “The expansion of the Loudoun County CIT program into the ADC demonstrates the importance and commitment in providing law enforcement additional tools and specialized skills in communicating with persons with mental illness who are incarcerated” stated Beth Flaherty, MHSADS CIT Coordinator and Emergency Service Supervising Clinician. Additionally, the training includes intervention techniques for deputies or officers responding to a person who may be suicidal.
The training included classroom instruction, role play exercises which enabled law enforcement personnel to gain a better understanding of the experience of living with serious mental illnesses, and site visits to LAMPS ( Loudoun Mental Psychiatric Services), the Homeless Shelter, and MHSADS’ offices at the Shenandoah Building. It was taught by Loudoun certified CIT Sheriff’s Deputies and professionals from MHSADS, the Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office, and other experts within the field. During the week-long training, students were introduced to medical, social, psychological and legal aspects associated with mental illness.
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman helped facilitate crisis intervention training in October 2012 after assessing the frequency of incidents involving mental illness in the County. Through a collaborative effort, Sheriff Chapman helped facilitate the first-ever crisis intervention training for first-responders and emergency dispatchers. To date, over 65 Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputies and 100% of dispatchers have received CIT training. “Specially trained deputies and dispatchers can use the techniques taught in the CIT program to help resolve potentially difficult situations from the very first call,” said Sheriff Chapman. The training included members of the Town of Leesburg Police Department and the Town of Purcellville Police Department.
Last week’s CIT training for the Adult Detention Center was the first of four classes to be held in 2015, with the goal of providing a majority of Adult Detention Center deputies with specialized skills that would prove valuable when assisting a person in crisis.