Loudoun County, VA- The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office reached another milestone this week graduating its 40th session of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) on Friday. CIT helps prepare law enforcement officers, on patrol and in the Adult Detention Center (ADC), as well as emergency dispatchers to calmly and effectively communicate with citizens experiencing a behavioral crisis. The program has been recognized both regionally and nationally and has trained over 600 personnel from the local, state, and federal level.
Seven years ago Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman had a heady goal of training 25% of sworn personnel in CIT after assessing the number of incidents involving mental illness in the county. In 2017, the LCSO exceeded that goal by having 100% of all uniformed patrol and corrections deputies with two or more years trained in CIT. The program requires two or more years of experience to participate in the training. In addition, 100 percent of all dispatchers and call takers in the Emergency Communications Center are also trained in CIT.
To accomplish this, Sheriff Chapman collaborated with a myriad of stakeholders and started the CIT program in October 2012, and the program was expanded to include the Courts and Corrections Division in January 2015. “This training is a valuable skill set and has assisted our staff in many instances to peacefully resolve potentially violent situations,” said Sheriff Chapman.
The 40th sessions saw the largest class in the history of the CIT program in Loudoun County with 30 participants. Those graduating from the class on Friday represented multiple agencies including the LCSO, Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System, Loudoun Animal Services, Loudoun County Public Schools, the Leesburg Police Department, the Winchester Police Department, the Front Royal Police Department, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The training includes classroom instruction and role-play exercises which enable law enforcement personnel to gain a better understanding of the experience of living with serious mental illnesses. Participants also conduct site visits to Inova Loudoun Behavioral Services (ILBHS), the Homeless Shelter, and MHSADS offices at the Shenandoah Building. The class is taught by Loudoun certified CIT Sheriff’s Deputies and professionals from MHSADS, the Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office, and other experts within the field. During the week-long training, students are introduced to medical, social, psychological and legal aspects associated with mental illness.
The collaborative program joined the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office; Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Health Services (MHSADS); Friends of Loudoun Mental Health; the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Northern Virginia; the Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office; Inova Loudoun Hospital; and the Virginia Department of Veterans and Family Services. The training includes site visits and partnerships with Ken Falke and the staff from Boulder Crest (healing one veteran at a time) and The Arc of Loudoun.
The CIT program is designed to promote positive interaction between law enforcement and persons in crisis and reduce injuries to deputies and persons suffering from mental illness.