Lynchburg CIT Trained First-Responders Force Approaches 100 - WSET.com - ABC13

Lynchburg CIT Trained First-Responders Force Approaches 100

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The most recent class of CIT trained graduates representing Lynchburg Police Department, Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Central Virginia Community College Police Department, Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, Lynchburg The most recent class of CIT trained graduates representing Lynchburg Police Department, Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Central Virginia Community College Police Department, Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, Lynchburg

Lynchburg, VA - The April CIT Basic class of the Lynchburg-Central Virginia CIT Program will bring the number of trained first responders to just under 100, according to CIT Coordinator Tim Paul.  CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Team.

CIT programs now operate in over thirty communities throughout the state. Their purpose is to provide specialized training to law enforcement officers and other first responders who encounter persons with mental illness or disability while carrying out their duties.

Colonel Parks Snead, Lynchburg Police Chief, explains that "the CIT approach provides a police officer with the means to communicate with, and establish rapport with, a person suffering from mental illness. Establishing this link places the officer in a much better position to help that person, and the officer has a range of options for doing that."

Chief Magistrate Jessica D. Johnson said that,  "Prior to CIT, officers often felt that their only options were arrest or placing the person in custody and taking them to receive mental health assessments that could place them in a treatment facility if a court so ordered."

Eighteen students graduated from the 40-hour February class held at the James River Conference Center. They consisted of law enforcement officers from Lynchburg Police Department, Amherst County Sheriff's Office, Campbell County Sheriff's Office, and the Central Virginia Community College Police Department.

In addition, two EMT/firefighters from the Lynchburg Fire Department, four corrections officers from the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, and Chief Magistrate Jessica D. Johnson of the 24th Judicial District completed the training.

The program operates under a grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, and is open to all area law enforcement agencies and a variety of other first responder agencies and mental health treatment professionals. Trained officers are identified by a CIT pin worn on their uniforms.

Citizens calling for police assistance can also request a specially trained CIT officer if they believe they need one to help in situations where a person with mental illness may be going through some sort of crisis. "No agency can yet guarantee that a CIT officer will always be available," says Tim Paul, "but we are rapidly approaching the kinds of numbers that will make that very realistic."

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