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Alamogordo, NM Friday, February 1, 2019 - To enhance law enforcement responses to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and support Otero County’s resolution to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails, the Alamogordo Police Department (APD) held a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training event in January 2019. In this training, law enforcement officers were taught to recognize the signs and symptoms of psychiatric disability, how to identify a mental health crisis, and strategies to manage and resolve difficult encounters.
CIT programs are a form of community partnership among local law enforcement agencies, local mental health agencies, mental health advocacy groups, people living with a mental health condition, and families. Through this CIT project, APD has strengthened partnerships with member organizations in the Otero County Community Health Council and Behavioral Health Local Collaborative and plans to establish a community-based continuum of care to support people living with mental and substance use disorders.
The CIT training is being provided to the APD as part of a broader training and technical assistance package awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s VALOR Initiative, the Law Enforcement and Community: CIT Training Model Program. Through this program, Law Enforcement in Alamogordo, NM and three other selected sites (Honolulu, Hawaii; Huntsville, Alabama; and St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana) will improve their response to, and interaction with persons with mental illness by building positive partnerships with community stakeholders, creating an agency culture that understands mental health issues, and developing and implementing a comprehensive, sustainable CIT program strategy. Policy Research Associates, Inc., a national leader in behavioral health and research, is coordinating the training and technical assistance for this program.
“Through our participation in the Law Enforcement and Community: CIT Training Model Program, APD will become the model of cooperation between law enforcement officers and behavioral health professionals to serve individuals with mental and substance use disorders experiencing crisis,” said Kimmie Jordan, APD’s CIT Project and Mental Health Lead.
Twenty-three law enforcement professionals from four regional agencies and several local mental health professionals participated in the APD’s CIT training, held January 28-31, 2019. APD plans to hold a “Train the Trainer” events between March 6 and August 19, 2019 to train all of APD’s 59 sworn law enforcement officers in CIT.