Lunenburg cops receive CIT training

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crossroads Community Services Board is providing training to help law enforcement officers better deal with the mentally ill.

The agency’s Crisis Intervention Team — known as CIT — is being held out as an innovative first-responder model of crisis intervention that is a partnership between the community, health care and law enforcement.

The objective is to have a sufficient number of officers, deputies, fire and rescue workers, dispatchers, corrections officers, mental health workers and other pertinent community members trained to ensure that CIT-trained personnel are available at all times.

Joe Burton, a former policeman and Crossroad’s CIT coordinator, said the intent is to make law enforcement conscious about the mentally ill and funnel them as quickly as possible to trained professionals, redirecting those suffering with mental illness from the judicial system to the health care system.

In doing that, he said, the main goal of the training is to improve the quality of life for those affected by mental illness.

The long-term goal is development of a crisis receiving center, Burton said.

“CIT provides law enforcement based crisis intervention trailing for assisting those individuals with a mental health issue, and improves the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members and citizens within the community,” Burton told the members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors at their Thursday, Dec. 10, meeting.

Similar programs are spreading across the country.

Burton told the supervisors that at the time the county already had two officers who had been through the program’s 40-hour curriculum. “That will be taught in every jurisdiction,” Burton said.