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NRV intervention team recognizes its members

Recognizing the signs of mental illness can be the difference between life and death for law enforcement officers and some of the people they encounter in the performance of their duties.
Thanks to the New River Valley Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program, officers and the mentally ill subjects they encounter have a better chance of a good outcome.
Thursday night, more than 100 members of law enforcement and other agencies joined together for a banquet at Radford University’s west campus to honor their colleagues and recognize five years of CIT success in the valley.
The CIT Program was started by the Memphis Police Department in 1988, but the New River program has the distinction of being the first rural, multi-jurisdictional application of CIT in the nation and now serves as a model for other jurisdictions looking to develop the program.
CIT is described as a “pre-booking diversion program developed to prevent the inappropriate incarceration of individuals with mental illness and provide an alternative outcome which addresses both public safety and therapeutic concerns.”
Officers who become CIT certified must undergo 40 hours of training designed to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness so they can respond effectively and appropriately to
Thursday night’s guest speaker, CIT International President Lt. Michael Woody, shared his story of a personal encounter with a mentally ill woman. He said the incident not only “tugs at my heartstrings” to this day, but also exemplifies the program’s benefits. He is a retired 25-year veteran of the Akron (Ohio) Police Department.
Despite attempts by the woman’s attorney to have the charges reduced or dismissed due to her illness, Woody said he refused to comply because he thought she would be deemed mentally ill and receive treatment rather than incarceration.
“You don’t always get what you want,” he warned.
A few years later, Woody got a call to respond to a “jumper” on a bridge. By the time he arrived, the person had already jumped, but she left her purse behind. When he checked the identification, he discovered it was the mother who had been charged with his attempted murder.
Three awards were presented to team members Thursday.
Community Stakeholder Amy Forsyth-Stephens was recognized with the 2009 CIT Bridge Builder Award for being instrumental in the success of the New River Valley program through grant writing and development of the New River Valley Bridge Program, a post-booking jail diversion program.
Narrows Police Department Sgt. Jimmy McCroskey received the 2009 CIT Intervention of the Year Award for his “firm compassion, bravery and patience” in diffusing a situation involving a mentally ill person this past summer.
Blacksburg Police Department Lt. Kit Cummings was presented with the 2009 Corporal Eric E. Sutphin CIT Officer of the Year Award for embodying “the CIT mindset in all aspects of his job.” An original officer with the local CIT program, Cummings now serves as a faculty member training local officers and those in other jurisdictions developing their own programs.
The New River Valley CIT Program has trained 145 local law enforcement officers and 107 officers from 39 other jurisdictions throughout the Commonwealth.
Dublin Police Department has four CIT-trained officers, Pulaski Police Department has seven and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has five.

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NRV intervention team recognizes its members

Recognizing the signs of mental illness can be the difference between life and death for law enforcement officers and some of the people they encounter in the performance of their duties.
Thanks to the New River Valley Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program, officers and the mentally ill subjects they encounter have a better chance of a good outcome.
Thursday night, more than 100 members of law enforcement and other agencies joined together for a banquet at Radford University’s west campus to honor their colleagues and recognize five years of CIT success in the valley.
The CIT Program was started by the Memphis Police Department in 1988, but the New River program has the distinction of being the first rural, multi-jurisdictional application of CIT in the nation and now serves as a model for other jurisdictions looking to develop the program.
CIT is described as a “pre-booking diversion program developed to prevent the inappropriate incarceration of individuals with mental illness and provide an alternative outcome which addresses both public safety and therapeutic concerns.”
Officers who become CIT certified must undergo 40 hours of training designed to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness so they can respond effectively and appropriately to
Thursday night’s guest speaker, CIT International President Lt. Michael Woody, shared his story of a personal encounter with a mentally ill woman. He said the incident not only “tugs at my heartstrings” to this day, but also exemplifies the program’s benefits. He is a retired 25-year veteran of the Akron (Ohio) Police Department.
Despite attempts by the woman’s attorney to have the charges reduced or dismissed due to her illness, Woody said he refused to comply because he thought she would be deemed mentally ill and receive treatment rather than incarceration.
“You don’t always get what you want,” he warned.
A few years later, Woody got a call to respond to a “jumper” on a bridge. By the time he arrived, the person had already jumped, but she left her purse behind. When he checked the identification, he discovered it was the mother who had been charged with his attempted murder.
Three awards were presented to team members Thursday.
Community Stakeholder Amy Forsyth-Stephens was recognized with the 2009 CIT Bridge Builder Award for being instrumental in the success of the New River Valley program through grant writing and development of the New River Valley Bridge Program, a post-booking jail diversion program.
Narrows Police Department Sgt. Jimmy McCroskey received the 2009 CIT Intervention of the Year Award for his “firm compassion, bravery and patience” in diffusing a situation involving a mentally ill person this past summer.
Blacksburg Police Department Lt. Kit Cummings was presented with the 2009 Corporal Eric E. Sutphin CIT Officer of the Year Award for embodying “the CIT mindset in all aspects of his job.” An original officer with the local CIT program, Cummings now serves as a faculty member training local officers and those in other jurisdictions developing their own programs.
The New River Valley CIT Program has trained 145 local law enforcement officers and 107 officers from 39 other jurisdictions throughout the Commonwealth.
Dublin Police Department has four CIT-trained officers, Pulaski Police Department has seven and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has five.

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