Cumberland County Prosecutor Webb-McRae is pleased to congratulate the officers and mental health professionals who received their training certificate after completing Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. The weeklong training concluded on Friday, March 4, and was hosted in collaboration with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, NJ CIT Center of Excellence, the Cumberland County Department of Human Services, the Cumberland County Guidance Center and the New Jersey State Police.
The CIT program promotes collaboration between community law enforcement and the local mental health system to respond to the needs of those in mental health crisis. The 40-hour CIT certification program for police officers and mental health providers provides in-depth knowledge about mental illnesses, crisis resolution skills and access to community based services.
Thirty-eight participants completed the program. They represented officers from Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland Police departments, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, the Cumberland County Jail and troopers from the Bridgeton and Port Norris Barracks. They also represented mental health professionals from Inspira Health Network, the Cumberland County Guidance Center, Volunteers of America and Gateway Community Action Agency.
“Thanks to all for this incredible effort,” said Webb-McRae, “and a special thanks to Chief Pedro Casiano of the Vineland Police Department who hosted the class and to Ed Dobleman of NJ-CIT for his commitment to bringing CIT to Cumberland County.”
Responding to individuals in crisis in a manner that minimizes the potential for injury is a key tenet of the CIT-NJ model as it strives to provide law enforcement officers and mental health professionals with knowledge and skills to deescalate potentially explosive situations. Additionally, the CIT-NJ model assists in diverting those with serious mental illness from the criminal justice system and instead to appropriate mental health care. CIT-NJ is committed to developing a system of local services that are increasingly responsive to individuals with mental illness, their family members, and protecting our first responders and police officers.
One of the highlights of the week was when Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin visited on March 2 to speak to the participants about the importance of the CIT model.
“As the county mental health administrator, it was an honor and a privilege to be in the midst of so many law enforcement and mental health professionals who are committed to crisis intervention training,” said Cumberland County Human Services Director Melissa Niles, “it is my hope to continue this effort at regular intervals through our partnerships.”
CIT Training will be offered again in Cumberland County as a complementary component of the EMBHED (Effective Mental & Behavioral Health Emergency Diversion) project recently announced by Prosecutor’s Office’s Community Justice Unit. EMBHED will focus on individuals with mental illness and substance abuse who come into contact with police, on scene or at the station.
Additionally, CIT-NJ will support the New Jersey State Police initiative, ARRIVE Together (“Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence & Escalation”) which pairs a New Jersey State Police law enforcement Trooper with a mental health screener to respond together to behavioral health crises calls to the State Police based in Bridgeton and Port Norris.