The N.C. Center for Safer Schools today sponsored the first ever Crisis Intervention Team-Youth training for law enforcement at an all-day training session in Chapel Hill. This eight-hour CIT-Youth class seeks to build upon the standard 40-hour CIT program that provides officers with the skills and knowledge to de-escalate persons in crisis and emphasizes treatment rather than jail for people showing signs of mental illness.
“Addressing mental health, substance abuse, underage drinking and other issues directly affecting the children of North Carolina have been primary goals of our team since the beginning of my administration,” said Governor McCrory. “Because research shows that the majority of youth in the juvenile justice system have one or more psychiatric disorders, we believe crisis intervention training will help improve the outcomes of law enforcement encounters to the benefit both the youth as well as the officers.”
The Center for Safer Schools received a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission to develop an additional eight-hour training block beyond CIT that was focused on the kinds of emotional and mental health issues found in juveniles and to find the options best suited for diverting those youth in crisis from arrest and incarceration. The CIT-Youth program provides a template and training materials for existing local North Carolina CIT partnerships that enhance the skills of CIT-trained officers.
During the initial CIT-Youth training today at the Chapel Hill Public Library, experienced mental health professionals instructed 20 officers from four Orange County law enforcement agencies. The instructors included representatives from the Chapel Hill Police Department; N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; UNC-CH School of Social Work; Cumberland County Mental Health Center; Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions; Mecklenburg County Health Department; and the Freedom House Recovery Center.
In developing the training, the N.C. Center for Safer Schools established a working committee of experienced CIT-involved mental health specialists and law enforcement officers.
The CIT-Youth planning committee brought together experts to develop a state-of-the-art curriculum designed to enhance the skills of CIT-trained officers, particularly school resource officers and others who have frequent encounters with children and adolescents. The training includes segments on childhood mental disorders, suicide and self-harm, crisis intervention and role playing.
“Policing in schools always presents unique challenges to those officers who dedicate their careers to helping youth in schools,” said Center for Safer Schools Deputy Director Mike Anderson. “CIT-Youth gives them another tool in their tool box to ensure that those young people in crisis can truly get the help and resources they need.”
The first CIT program in the country was pioneered in Memphis, Tennessee in the late 1980s and has since become known as the “Memphis Model.” The first CIT-certified officers in North Carolina were trained in Wake County in 2005.