Officers complete crisis training

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Lt. Maretta McNichol and Capt. Tim Hawn of the Roane County Sheriff’s Office recently graduated with the fourth class of the East Tennessee Crisis Intervention Team training.

To date, 71 area law enforcement officers have completed the program.

“Law enforcement agencies in the area are to be commended for the value they place on this program by allowing officers to participate, especially given the shortage of staff in some departments,” said Brian Buuck, chief operating officer at Ridgeview Psychiatric Hospital and Center in Oak

“It has been a privilege to work with the officers.”

The training at Ridgeview is provided through a partnership among area law enforcement agencies, area mental health agencies and advocates for the mentally ill.

It includes 40 hours of intensive class work and visits to area mental health facilities.

In addition to McNichol and Hawn, Anderson County, Blount County, Oak Ridge, Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee had officers who participated in the week-long program.

The class provided de-escalation training, discussion of legal and clinical issues, medications, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, suicide intervention and a range of symptoms associated with distinct psychiatric diagnostic categories.

The goal of the program is to make it possible for law enforcement officers to better deal with mental health consumers who are in crisis and need treatment, not incarceration.

“Having CIT-trained officers available can make a tremendous difference in the outcome for both the mentally-ill individual and the officer,” Oak Ridge Deputy Chief Alan Massengill said.

“CIT programs have been implemented in communities across the U.S., and the collaboration between law enforcement and mental health providers has saved lives and better served the community.”