KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Several local law enforcement officers and other first responders have added a new tool to their belt.
They’ve now completed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and graduated from the program on Friday.
Officers underwent 40 hours of training, learning how to identify mental health resources to help people in crisis.
The training connects the officers with mental health professionals to create a team able to provide support for people in need. The team itself is a collaboration between advocates, law enforcement and mental health systems.
“We’re all speaking the same language and we all know the skills that we’ve already utilized, and it really helps the experience for the consumer for I think to have a better outcome,” said CIT Coordinator Candace Allen.
The graduates learning skills to help people in psychiatric crisis. Training includes mental health and substance abuse awareness, as well as where officers can send people in need in lieu of incarceration.
“We see them as law enforcement officers when they’re committing the crime, when they’re in the act of the moment, they’re already at that peak. We don’t see the journey, the struggle, the relapses. And these are things that these units and these specialized places, they can actually help them turn their lives around and recover that, and if we as law enforcement can understand that and utilize those tools, we may be that next thing that pushes them to that recovery,” said Ofc. Tyler Wolfe.
Part of the program also involved trips to local organizations like KARM and Volunteer Ministry Center, giving a new perspective for officers, no matter where they work.
“I’m in a high school, so to be able to help children that are going through different traumas or different things that have happened in their life, to keep them from having to hit crisis mode in order to get the help that they need,” said Ofc. Jami Blair.
Almost 30 people graduated Friday. They work in Knoxville and Knox County’s police departments, hospitals, and school systems.
CIT training has been going on since 2012. We’re told organizers usually hold about three classes every year.