Sheriff Al Nienhuis and his staff are committed to providing our first responders with Crisis Intervention Team Training. This year four weeks were set aside to accomplish educating our personnel. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) “The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a model community initiative designed to improve the outcomes of police interactions with people living with mental illnesses. CIT programs are built on local partnerships between law enforcement agencies, mental health providers and advocates (local NAMI Affiliates). They involve individuals living with mental illnesses and families at all levels of decision-making and planning. CIT programs typically provide 40 hours of training for law enforcement on how to better respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis. Equally important, CIT programs provide a forum for partner organizations to coordinate diversion from jails to mental health services”.
To date the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office has completed three out of the four training sessions and we have graduated 37 Deputy Sheriffs from our operations division, 11 Telecommunicators, 15 Deputy Sheriffs from our Detention Division, and 3 of our detention nursing staff. In total the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office has graduated 66 of our personnel through Crisis Intervention Team Training. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office will host one more C.I.T. Training in 2015. The next class is scheduled in October where we plan to graduate another 40 students in Crisis Intervention Team training.
At the conclusion of each course we offer participants the opportunity to complete surveys in order to effectively evaluate the training. Here are a few of the quotes from those surveys by Sheriff’s Office personnel in response to the individuals living with mental illness who present as part of our C.I.T. program:
“This will help with future contacts on patrol. Thank you again you are each such a blessing”.
“Such courage to tell personal stories to strangers yet understanding the positive impact they give us”.
“I really appreciate and enjoy what this course has to offer, it has opened my eyes and changed the way I view mental illness”.