Nearly two dozen police officers from Hudson County and seven mental health professionals began a one week, 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team training program this morning aimed at producing better outcomes when law enforcement interacts with the mentally ill in crisis situations.
“The CIT training is to prevent a lot of the violent situations and misunderstandings we have seen take place,” said Stephanie R. Simon, Mental Health Coordinator for Crisis Intervention Training for Hudson County.
She did not cite specific cases, but in 2009, a Jersey City woman who suffered from schizophrenia was shot dead in her own home by police after they say she attacked them with a knife.
In 2012, a Bayonne man with mental health issues was shot dead by police after his wife had asked police to do a welfare check when she was out of town.
Police officers from Jersey City, Bayonne, West New York, Secaucus, Hoboken, Kearny, the Port Authority and Hudson County Sheriff’s Office are participating in the program.
“The worst result is someone dying, but also in somebody being taken to jail when what they really need is to be in a hospital,” said Simon who is coordinating the mental health aspects of the training while Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Training Instructor and former Undersheriff James A. Sharrock coordinates law enforcement aspects. “These crisis situations can also result in police officers being injured, disciplined or criticized. The goal is to keep everyone safe.”
The program covers a wide range of topics, including the law, law enforcement, mental health, reintegration into society following incarcerations, homelessness, hearing voices, speaking effectively to the mentally ill during crisis situations and visits to the Hudson County jail, Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health and Bridgeway Crisis Intervention Services in Jersey City.
A key portion of the CIT training will be role play in which officers will be placed in various crisis situation and employ crisis intervention strategies.
“The goal is to train the police to understand mental health sufferers and providers and for mental health providers to understand what police deal with,” Simon said. “To get us on the same page so we can avoid a lot of the bad situations that have taken place.”
Numerous instructors will address the officers and mental health providers during the week. Others involved are Hudson County Mental Health and Addictions Administrator Robin James and statewide Director of Crisis Intervention Training Ed Dobleman.
On Friday the officers and mental health coordinators will be addressed by former governor and current Jersey City’s Employment & Training Program Director James McGreevey. The training program’s opening address this morning was provided by Acting Hudson County Prosecutor Guy Gregory, whose office is a sponsor of the training event.
Simon said it has taken about two years to make CIT training a reality in Hudson County.
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on June 01, 2015 at 2:48 PM, updated June 01, 2015 at 4:20 PM