FREEHOLD – “You’ve got to let me help you” were some of the first words that a Hazlet police officer used to help a suicidal individual in crisis. The officer, who had been part of a recent Prosecutor’s Office Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), used the lessons that he learned only weeks earlier to successfully help a person in distress attempting to harm themselves, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.
Earlier this year, the Hazlet Police Department received a 911 call for a person in crisis. The person was in their vehicle, threatening to harm themselves and responding officers in the parking lot of a local business. The individual was adamant to dispatchers that they did not want police to respond to the area.
Patrolman John Corcione was one of the responders for the Hazlet Police Department, and had recently been an attendee of Crisis Intervention Training that was held at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office just this past May. Upon arrival at the scene, Officer Corcione began a dialogue with the person, who was holding a weapon. Corcione used skills in de-escalating the situation that he had learned in the training class. The officer even told the individual about CIT, and explained that he was trained to respond to critical incidents to get people to “even better hands” to help. Corcione successfully convinced the person to drop the weapon, and assisted them in calming down until EMS arrived.
“Officer Corcione did exactly what he was trained to do and his actions in this crisis situation are an incredible, real-world example of CIT making a difference in the field. I would like to recognize and thank Officer Corcione, Hazlet Police Chief Ted Wittke for his strong support of CIT Training, and the other officers and EMS personnel who assisted in this incident. The compassion and heart that this officer provided to this individual in need saved a life, and we are hopeful that the person in crisis is getting the compassionate care that they need.” Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey stated.
“It’s evident by the actions of Officer Corcione that CIT training works by giving officers the skills to effectively defuse these high-stress incidents. He did a great job, and we are all very proud of him,” Hazlet Police Chief Ted Wittke added.
Officer Corcione had this to say about the incident: “Thankfully this individual and I crossed paths at exactly the right time. Maybe we ended up exactly where we were supposed to be that day, so the individual could get the help that was desperately needed. We just did our job, which is to make sure everyone goes home.”
MCPO’s next CIT class will be held in October. Each class trains approximately 25 police officers and five mental health professionals, and includes an in-depth look at mental illness, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, and their implications for a law-enforcement response during a crisis, with a strong emphasis on de-escalation. Instructors for MCPO’s 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 crisis resolution experts.
Law-enforcement officers learn to apply the strategies they learn in real-life situations in order to minimize the potential for injury or violence. Mental and behavioral health practitioners also sit in as students in the class in order to build relationships with the police officers, and to better understand the issues they face while often serving as the initial responders to such calls for service.
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