Twenty years ago an innovative concept was introduced to the community - Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Summit County was an early adopter of CIT, a program that is now the best-practice for law enforcement around the world. In 2000, the County of Summit ADM Board sent Michael S. Woody, (then) Akron Police Department lieutenant in charge of the Training Bureau, to Memphis. He returned, energized by the valuable approach to safer policing, and worked with Dr. Mark Munetz, (then) chair of the NEOMED Dept. of Psychiatry, and the Summit County ADM Board, to launch CIT in Akron. “From just two counties with CIT programs in 2000, we reached an incredible milestone about a year ago. Today all 88 Ohio counties have trained CIT officers. In addition, more than 16,000 professionals have been trained throughout Ohio, of which nearly 12,000 are sworn law enforcement officers,” says Dr. Munetz.
On Friday, October 2nd, we celebrate another graduation at NEOMED of 23 officers and paramedics while pausing to commemorate the importance of the last 20 years. “CIT programs are collaborative efforts between law enforcement and mental health systems to help officers direct people with mental illness to treatment instead of unnecessary incarceration. The forty-hour CIT training provides practical techniques for safely de-escalating mental health crises. Officers learn to integrate some different approaches with their police training when responding to a person they believe to have a mental illness,” says Michael S. Woody, retired Akron Police Department lieutenant and past president of CIT International.
Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio Evelyn Lundberg Stratton played a key role in spreading CIT throughout Ohio. “We are all so grateful to these officers for volunteering to serve as Ohio’s first CIT officers and for setting examples of dedication and professionalism for the many others who followed. So many individuals with mental illness, their families and friends and their communities rely on CIT officers to ensure safe, compassionate interactions and access to mental health care throughout the recovery process,” says Justice Stratton.
Of the 80 officers who completed one of the three CIT training courses held in Ohio in 2000 – two in Summit and one in Lucas County - 49 (61 percent) remain active with CIT today: 27 across seven jurisdictions in Summit County, 18 in Toledo (Lucas County), two in Hancock County (one each in Findlay P.D. and Hancock County Sheriff’s Office) and two in Lancaster P.D. (Fairfield County).
“Today, CIT in Ohio is truly more than training; it is a community partnership. The CJ CCoE and NAMI Ohio are pleased to partner in providing technical assistance and guidance to promote implementation and expansion of CIT in Ohio, and are grateful to our many partners and supporters,” says Ruth H. Simera, executive director of the NEOMED Coordinating Centers of Excellence, and Terry Russell, executive director of NAMI Ohio. “Lt. Woody, Dr. Munetz and Justice Stratton continue to be passionate CIT champions. Other CIT partners include the Office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, the Office of Criminal Justice Services, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and many others.”
For more information about CIT or the upcoming graduation ceremony please contact the ADM Board at 330-762-3500 or the media contact Chrissy Gashash at firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to COVID-19 safety measures, in person guests must be pre-approved. A Zoom link will also be available for members of the media.