CSS Hosts CIT Training for First Responders

Authored by: Community Support Services

Community Support Services (CSS) will welcome 24 police, firefighters and other first responders to a weeklong Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training at the end of September as the CIT program celebrates its 20th year in Summit County.

CIT training, which originated in Memphis, Tenn., is a method of de-escalating mental health crises that partners law enforcement with mental health providers, advocates and consumers of mental health services. The goal is to reduce harm to those in mental health crisis and first responders. It also aims for those experiencing mental health crises to get treatment rather than being incarcerated.

Statistics reveal that about a quarter of fatal law enforcement encounters involve someone with serious mental illness. The recent cases of Daniel Prude in Rochester, NY, and Linden Cameron in Salt Lake City, Utah – where 911 calls about a family member in mental distress resulted in the death or injury of the distressed person by police – are examples of the tragic outcome that can happen when police respond to calls involving mentally ill individuals. However, many mental health professionals believe such tragedies can be avoided by police undergoing CIT training.

The local CIT program was established after the County of Summit ADM Board sponsored Lt. Mike Woody, retired training director for the Akron Police Department, to attend the training in Memphis and bring back what he learned to Akron. Woody now is the past president of CIT International. CSS, a longtime partner in the CIT program, has hosted the training for more than 15 years and will welcome first responders for training from Sept. 28 through Oct. 1 at their offices, 150 Cross Street, Akron.

During the 40 hours of training, first responders will learn about various mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, dementia, medication side effects, suicide and substance abuse. They will hear from doctors, social workers, police, Summit County court judges and CSS clients, who will share their personal stories. They will learn about tactical safety and de-escalation techniques, “experience” mental illness through simulated hallucinations, and ride along with CSS case managers to site visits. The final day, Oct. 2, will take place at NEOMED, where participants will role play based on what they’ve learned and participate in a graduation ceremony.

Participants in the training will be representatives of Akron Police Department, Stow Police Department, Ohio State Patrol, Norton Police Department, Lakemore Police Department, Northfield Village Police Department, Copley Police Department, New Franklin Police Department, Tallmadge Police Department, Summit County Sheriff’s Office, North Coast Behavioral Health Police Department, Twinsburg Police Department, Akron Fire Department, and Akron Children’s Hospital Police Department.

Contact: Michael Gaffney
              Director of Marketing & Development
              (330) 701-8080 (cell)