Twenty law enforcement personnel graduated from Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, training on March 10. The graduates represented Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Rocky Top Police Department, Anderson County Corrections Office, and Blount Memorial Security.
CIT is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention with community, health care, and advocacy partnerships. CIT provides 40 hours of specialized training for problem solving and de-escalating crisis situations with individuals who have a mental illness. Studies show it also improves the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members, and citizens within the community, a press release said.
“Thanks to the partnership between the Oak Ridge City Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Ridgeview Behavioral Health, NAMI Oak Ridge, the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee, and other community health advocates, our community has better equipped itself with first responders who have an effective set of communication and problem solving skills,” Oak Ridge Police Department Chief James Akagi said in his opening remarks.
So far, the East Tennessee Crisis Intervention Team has trained more than 180 law enforcement personnel, the press release said.
During the graduation ceremony, Brian Buuck, Ridgeview chief executive officer, emphasized the words of CIT founder Major Sam Cochran: “The program’s success is as much about changing hearts as it is about changing minds.”
One graduate said it was “one of the best overall courses I have attended. (It) increased my ability to better serve consumers experiencing a crisis.” Another said it was “very good and beneficial to the job. (I) learned very useful skills.”
One week after graduation, Rocky Top Police Officer Todd Johnston was called upon to put his new skill set to use, the press release said. A person stood atop a bridge overlooking Interstate 75 preparing to jump.
“Due to Officer Johnston’s CIT Training, he was able to recognize the acute emotional pain and hopelessness the individual was experiencing and connect them to help and hope,” the press release said.
“CIT saved a life in that moment and continues to make a lasting, positive impact on all citizens,” the press release said.
A CIT Officer of the Year will be recognized on May 5 at noon on the climbing tower grounds of Ridgeview. The public is invited to attend as part of the free community mental health awareness event, Ride for Hope.
Here are the CIT graduates from March 10:
Anderson County Sheriff’s Department
- Shawn L. Bannach
- Robert Collins
- Tyler A. Culver
- Marty W. Fenton
- Ray J. Green
- Joe Harrison
- Thomas J. Hartsfield
- Amy M. Purkey
- Brittany Streetman
- Shain Vowell
- Mark Whaley
Blount Memorial Security
- Jonathan P. Bailey
Rocky Top Police Department
- David Campbell
- Todd Johnston
Oak Ridge Police Department
- Gary Beaty
- Charles R. Crothers
- Philip Knight
- Kurt I. W. Lauen
- Jeremy R. Phillips
- Chelsey Pickens
This press release was submitted by Michael Yates, director of development at Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services.
Ridgeview is a private, nonprofit community mental health center with locations in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan, Roane, and Scott counties.