I can still remember the first time I stood up before an array of county and state police officers at our first Crisis Intervention Team training presentation. Only a freshman in high school, I don't think I will ever be sure what the officers expected when a girl no older than 15 took the podium. With the pages of my speech piled before me, I began. Over the years, I have come to learn that every room is different and that every audience responds to our story in their own way. That morning, I felt a profound change in the room as my talk progressed. This space full of trained police officers (some of which were veteran cops) who sat tall and stiff behind their desks began to lend me their ears. For a few moments their strong and poignant eyes softened as they listened to a loud story from a little girl in the front of the room. It occurred to me that these officers cared about the well being of individuals, like my brother, who are at risk for psychiatric crisis. Despite years of working the streets, these honorable men and women still harbor deep wells of empathy. Since that morning we have been invited back to present for many training sessions, including the Summer 2016 training just earlier this month. It has always been an experience my mother and I look forward to.
It is no secret that a mental health crisis can be a scary situation for both the patient and the family. No matter how much background the family has about the illness, there is no way to be sure how it will manifest at any given moment. In those moments when even the sanctity of the patient or the family's safety is at risk, it is pertinent to call for help. Having Crisis Intervention in our county is an invaluable resource. When an individual trained in law enforcement, safety, and mental health crisis can be introduced to mediate a situation, both the patient and family are likely to be saved significant trauma. After seeing the care taken by both the trainers and the officers to fulfill CIT program requirements, I have great faith in their ability to avoid unnecessary harm at all costs. Unfortunately, without this training, other officers may not realize that force is unnecessary and the potential for harm to the patient may be increased if the situation were to escalate without a CIT trained officer. For this reason, I am sure to suggest the CIT program to officers I encounter in my area. I believe these officers are truly invested in the welfare of our communities, and this training enhances their ability to sustain that.
Though our portion of this summer's training was run by Kristan, I would like to thank the Sheriff's Department and Mobile Crisis Team for continuing to invite us back to work with them and their training sessions. It is a great joy to have the opportunity to collaborate with organizations and individuals seeking to make lasting changes in our communities and within the mental health community. I look forward to future endeavors and to being a part of further trainings!