Republished with permission.
Dr. S.R. Thorward is a Staff Psychiatrist at Twin Valley Behavioral Health.
This is the fifteenth article from the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mentally Ill in the Courts about effectively dealing with mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system. This article highlights recent Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training in Columbus and the immediate effects observed as a result.
CIT is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the mental health community to help law enforcement officers handle incidents involving mentally ill people. CIT is a community-based collaboration between law enforcement, NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill), mental health consumers, mental health providers, and local universities. Volunteer patrol officers receive 40 hours of training in mental illness and the local mental health system. The training is provided free of charge by the mental health community, providers, consumers, and family members. The training focuses on providing practical techniques for de-escalating crises. The Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mentally Ill in the Courts (ACMIC) has worked to encourage Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training state-wide.
September 8, 2003 saw the first 20 Columbus Police Department uniformed officers begin voluntary specialized training (CIT) in dealing with mentally ill citizens and offenders. This class completed the 40 hours of intensive training in five days, September 13. By September 19, the results were visible on the street.
Below are some encouraging examples of the impact of the CIT training in Columbus already within the first few weeks.
D. is a 20 year old male with Schizophrenia. He has had several admissions to Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare (TVBH) inpatient units. His illness usually leads to his disturbing the peace of the community. Police are called. He is often resistant to direction. Usually resistance leads to arrest and jail. In jail, his paranoia and grandiosity come to the Page 1076 fore and he decompensates rapidly. He is usually transferred from the jail to TVBH in a severely agitated and psychotic state. Months of hospitalization are then necessary to achieve sufficient...