Santa Barbara NAMI Members Help in Police Training on Mental Health Crisis Management

On August 22nd, our NAMI affiliate took part in the Sheriff Department’s week-long Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) Academy that teaches law enforcement officers and custody deputies how to defuse encounters with persons in mental health crisis while avoiding violence.  Common tactics involve remaining at a distance to avoid startling or riling the person, attempting to persuade instead of demanding compliance, and posing open-ended questions to nurture conversation.  Implementation of CIT training has been a top priority for NAMI nationally, in California and locally since its inception in the Memphis, TN police force in 1989.  Our local NAMI affiliate’s Public Policy Committee was instrumental in ensuring ongoing funding for staffing and implementation of CIT through its advocacy to our Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Department which recently funded a full time mental health clinician position to help implement CIT training.

The highlight of our presentation was a panel of consumers and family members who shared their stories with class members, as well as their paths to recovery.  At lunch, we interacted further with deputies, probation officers, and mental health professionals, hearing about their experiences, and why they have committed to de-escalating crisis encounters.  

Thanks to Michelle Williams, Michael Cox, Don Casebolt, Jan Winter, George Kaufmann, and Lynne Gibbs for their participation on the NAMI panel.

*Click for more information: How CIT Works