City of Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office Congratulate Crisis Intervention Team Graduates
On Friday, August 5, ten police officers and four deputy sheriffs graduated from the Crisis Intervention Team’s training academy. A graduation ceremony for the officers and deputy sheriffs was held at 2:30 P.M. at Police Department Headquarters and the Sheriff’s Office, located at 2003 Mill Road. The Chief of Police and the Undersheriff addressed the graduating class, congratulating them on their accomplishment.
The Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office developed the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) through a partnership with the Department of Mental Health. A Crisis Intervention Team is comprised of highly skilled and specially trained police officers who function as part of the regular police patrol. Through their training, these first responders receive 40 hours of specialized training in the recognition of psychiatric disorders, suicide intervention, substance abuse issues, verbal de-escalation techniques, the role of the family in the care of a person with mental illness, and legal training in mental health and substance abuse issues. In addition to classroom instruction, trainees also participate in role playing exercises based on real-life scenarios and spend an entire day visiting mental health and substance abuse inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities where they have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one dialogue with mental health consumers, and learn about resources available to help people in crisis.
This academy’s graduates from the Sheriff’s Office are Lieutenant Mile Eller, Sergeant Andrea Oliver, and Deputies Tim Thorne and Charles Beeghly. From the Police Department, the graduates are Officers Matthew Parker, Greg Holden, Chris Stanton, Marco Pereria, Dennis Vafier, Biruk Dessalegn, Alex Trapero, Tony Moore, Sergeant Gwen Diggs and Sergeant Bob Smith. Jennifer McFarlane from Probation and Parole also graduated.
CIT is based on a model developed by the Memphis Police Department in 1988 following a Police shooting of a mentally ill person, and it has since been adopted in communities in 45 states. The training is designed to educate and prepare police officers who come into contact with people with mental illnesses to recognize the signs and symptoms of these illnesses and to respond effectively and appropriately to individuals in crisis. The trained CIT officer is skilled at de-escalating crises involving people with mental illness, while bringing an element of understanding and compassion to these difficult situations.