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NWNC Officers Boost Crisis Situation Skills To Respond To Mental Health, Addiction Calls

Watauga CIT training May 2015
Law enforcement officers participated in Crisis Intervention Training provided by Smoky Mountain LME/MCO at no cost in May.

Twenty-three northwestern N.C. law enforcement officers are now better equipped to respond to people with issues related to mental illness, alcohol or drug use or a developmental disability.

The officers completed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training from May 18-22 at Samaritan’s Purse Training and Conference Center in Blowing Rock. Participating officers were:

  • Ryan Shepherd, Candace Peck and Jake Harkey with the Boone Police Department;
  • Brian Hayes, Jason Cornett, Kevin Edwards, Everett Broschinski, Michelle Wright-Miller and Matthew Royal with the Appalachian State University Police Department;
  • Garrett Norris, Tyson Seitz andPreston Russell with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Tyler Jones, Patrick Buchanan and Brett Stockton with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office; John Massimo, Daniel White and James Holman with the Blowing Rock Police Department;
  • Charlene Eloranta with the Catawba County Detention Center;
  • Tony Ford and Timothy Brown with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System police;
  • Ricky Lail and Jonathan Hicks with the Granite Falls Police Department.

The training was provided at no cost by Smoky Mountain LME/MCO (Smoky), a public managed healthcare organization. Partners included the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Samaritan’s Purse and RHA Health Services, Inc.. Watauga County Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Greer served as the law enforcement co-facilitator.

Smoky has trained more than 600 western North Carolina officers in CIT. The training helps officers better communicate with people with issues related to mental illness, alcohol or drug use or developmental disabilities and can increase both citizen and officer safety, help people get treatment and reduce arrests.

Between 25 and 40 percent of Americans with mental illness will pass through the criminal justice system at some point, according to NAMI. The first CIT program – a collaborative effort among law enforcement, advocates and mental health communities – was established in 1988 in Memphis, Tenn.

About Smoky Mountain LME/MCO

Smoky Mountain LME/MCO manages public funds for mental health, substance use disorder and developmental disability services in Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties in North Carolina. Access to services is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-849-6127. Visit Smoky online atwww.smokymountaincenter.com.