A milestone for County first-responders: More than half of Arlington’s police officers now have certified, internationally recognized crisis intervention skills.
The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training helps law enforcement responding to an incident work safely and communicate effectively with people exhibiting signs of mental illness. The goal is to get those who might otherwise be arrested – or worse – the help they need, rather than a trip to jail. Many are taken to the County’s Crisis Intervention Center, run by the Department of Human Services, at its North Edison Street facility.
Police Corporal Jonathan Stanley, one of the first in Arlington to complete the training, was named the County’s 2015 CIT Officer of the Year in April. He credits the sessions with giving him a fresh approach to people in crisis, coming off more as a neighbor than an authority figure. In his words, “Showing compassion goes a long way.”
Fourteen Arlington officers earned their CIT qualification this spring, bringing the total number of officers trained to 101. That’s 54 percent of police operations personnel. More than 90 percent of dispatchers in the County’s Emergency Communications Center are now CIT-certified.
CIT-trained officers are available to respond around the clock and can be recognized by a special pin on their uniforms. The week-long training, launched in Arlington in 2008 and funded by the state, is one of 33 such programs in Virginia.
Other local agencies trained by the County program include the Sheriff’s Office, CIA security, airports and Pentagon police, the Sheriff’s Office and magistrates.