Canton, Cherokee County, Ga. May 10, 2011. Sergeant Charles Westbrook, with the Cherokee Sheriff's Office, coordinated training for approximately 14 law enforcement officers and civilians from the North Georgia area last week in Crisis Intervention. The week long training took place at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters in Canton, Ga.
The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a cooperative effort between law enforcement, other public safety professionals, mental health professionals, families of the mentally ill, and stabilized consumers of mental health services to develop an efficient and effective way to help consumers during crisis situations. Many times when a consumer (a person suffering with mental illness) is in a crisis situation or has become unstable due to stress or lack of treatment a law enforcement officer is the first to respond. The CIT Program focuses on training law enforcement officer to handle these situations safely and effectively. CIT officers are trained to de-escalate or talk down persons with mental illness in a crisis thereby reducing the need for the use of force or incarceration if at all possible.
The goal of CIT is to help consumers get into treatment during crisis situations. The 40 hour class provides the students with an overview of mental illness and treatment options, direct contact with consumers and hands-on training in de-escalation techniques through role-play scenarios. The Cherokee Sheriff's Office was one of the first law enforcement agencies in Georgia to begin this type of training and has been an active part of the development of the CIT program in Georgia since 2004. The Cherokee Sheriff's Office has been training deputies and law enforcement officers from other agencies since early 2005. We are thankful to the Georgia Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) for all their support in assisting us with providing these training classes.