Officers Taught Tools to De-Escalate Encounters with Subjects in Crisis

FREEHOLD –   This week, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office hosted an intensive training program providing strategies for first responders to de-escalate encounters with those suffering from mental illness, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey. This is the first program of its kind provided to Monmouth County law enforcement officers.

The course, entitled Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT), is an intensive five-day interactive training that provides an in-depth look at a number of issues including mental illness, behavioral health, developmental disabilities and their implications for a law enforcement response during a crisis. It is based on an innovative international model of police-based crisis intervention training with community mental health care and advocacy partnerships.   Instructors for the CIT training include behavioral and mental health professionals from Monmouth Medical Center, the Monmouth County Mental Health Association, the Monmouth County Mental Health Board and CPC Behavioral Healthcare, as well as law enforcement crisis resolution experts. Law enforcement officers learn from mental health advocates and experts in crisis resolution, and apply these de-escalation strategies in real-life situations in order to minimize the potential for injury or violence.  Mental and behavioral health practitioners are also students in the class to build relationships with the police officers in the class and to better understand the issues faced by law enforcement officers who are often the first responders to such a crisis.

“Providing the gold standard of de-escalation training to our Monmouth County Law Enforcement Officers is vital to help them better serve residents experiencing mental or behavioral health emergencies.  Our goal is to have as many CIT trained officers as possible in all of our agencies. We will continue to push forward to reach that goal which benefits the communities that we serve,” stated Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey.  

The inaugural class of 25 officers included members from the following Monmouth County law enforcement agencies: Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Atlantic Highlands Police Department, Asbury Park Police Department, Bradley Beach Police Department, Hazlet Police Department, Highlands Police Department, Holmdel Police Department, Long Branch Police Department, Keansburg Police Department, Keyport Police Department, Manalapan Police Department, Matawan Police Department, Middletown Police Department, Neptune City Police Department, Neptune Township Police Department, Ocean Township Police Department, Red Bank Police Department and Wall Township Police Department. Five mental and behavioral health professionals also attended the class.

“We have been advocating for the creation of a CIT program in Monmouth County for some time.  We are gratified that our officers are participating and we believe the initiation of CIT training will make an enormous difference to our residents,” says John Moor, Mayor of Asbury Park.

New Jersey Crisis Intervention Training is a county-based collaboration of law enforcement officials and mental health professionals committed to developing a local system of services that is responsive to individuals with mental illness, their family members and responding police officers. This model strives to provide law enforcement officers and mental health professionals with the knowledge and skills to respond to an individual in psychiatric crisis in a manner that minimizes the potential for injury.   Some of the funding for the program was provided via federal grant funding. “Thanks to our original federal funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with our partner the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County, we are proud to support Monmouth County’s launch of CIT training.  We have seen the benefits in neighboring counties and are gratified to see the program grow here in Monmouth County,” stated Mary Pat Angelini, Chief Executive Officer for Preferred Behavioral Health Group.

A Monmouth County CIT Steering Committee has been working for months to plan and implement the 40-hour training.  The Committee is comprised of professionals from both law enforcement and mental health professionals. “We created a partnership between our behavioral health and law enforcement professionals that has helped all of us better understand how to assist people who are experiencing a crisis in our Monmouth County communities,” says Steven Horvath, Mental Health Administrator of the Monmouth County Department of Human Services.  

An additional CIT training program is scheduled later this year in October.  

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