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Crisis Intervention Team advanced training for local first responders

CIT advanced training was recently offered to 18 members of area police departments including Glenmont, Creston, Doylestown, Rittman, Millersburg, Ohio State University and Wooster.


CIT advanced training was recently offered to 18 members of area police departments including Glenmont, Creston, Doylestown, Rittman, Millersburg, Ohio State University and Wooster.
"There has been a significant increase in the mental health issues that we are seeing and dealing with," Wooster City Police Chief Matt Fisher said. "Seeing that our officers have Crisis Intervention Team training and can properly intervene and get these folks whatever help they need and get through whatever crisis they are going through is very valuable."
The two-day workshop was offered free in conjunction with the Wayne and Holmes Counties National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The program, a continuation of an initial CIT training course, delved into understanding the effects of trauma, post traumatic stress disorder and what it looks like and how to respond, critical incident stress management, needs specific to veterans, and an update on the pink slip process of ensuring someone in need receives critical mental health care. The training also included a tour of the Heartland Behavioral Healthcare facility in Massillon.
The prerequisite to the recent advanced workshop was a 40-hour CIT class. "It's geared toward identifying someone who may be in a mental health crisis," Wooster police officer Jerome Fatzinger said. "We give them guidance on what resources are available in the community. The big thing is to de-escalate the situation."
The advanced training is available to anyone who has attended the 40-hour class.
Fatzinger is a member of the CIT Advisory Council. The council includes representatives from NAMI, area police and sheriff's departments, dispatch, and area common pleas and juvenile court probation. The council oversees the CIT training.
Fatzinger explained the relevance of the group tour of the Massillon facility in the advanced workshop. "It's basically to give us an understanding of what it's like there, to see what the process is like if someone goes there for an evaluation or admittance, and to see the living conditions."
Fatzinger has attended the training numerous times. "Every time I sit through it I'm learning something new. It makes a difference to you on the job," he said. "Not only does it help for people in crisis, it also can help us to de-escalate on a domestic, learning a repertoire of options of how to talk to people. I think that goes a long way and not just with mental health issues."
The CIT training also covers coping strategies for the officers and includes understanding and recognizing the effect of trauma and PTSD in his or her own experience. First responders are repeatedly exposed to highly stressful and traumatic experiences and sights.
Dave Paxton is the chief clinical officer at The Village Network in Wooster. He spoke at the training about trauma and PTSD.
"Part of the goals of the training was to teach about the impact of trauma, the symptoms of PTSD and what to do to take care of yourself if you suspect that you are experiencing PTSD," Paxton said.
On the flipside of the issue, Paxton addressed how to understand behaviors seen in the community as the result of childhood trauma. "Children who are abused at an early age, these officers see the resulting behavior years later as the result of that abuse and neglect."
"Pink slip process and policies are always a hot topic in both classes," Fatzinger said.
The pink slip process is governed by state law as a procedure for admitting someone to the hospital if they are in crisis or a danger to themselves or others.  
Future trainings also will include dispatchers who are often called on to deal with crises. "They are the ones receiving that first call that someone is in crisis," Fatzinger said.
The OSU police force now has a department-wide mandate for all officers to be CIT trained by the end of the year. "We definitely put an emphasis on it," OSU Sgt. Chad Stanton said.
Stanton attended the training with three members of his Wooster team.
CIT training is a win-win situation for the first responders who attend and for the community. Stanton said, "It's free, it's good, it's local and the presenters are excellent."
It is not only the attendees who walk away from the CIT training with increased understanding and awareness.
"I already had so much respect for what these officers do day in and day out, but you get an even greater appreciation for what they do every day for the public. It's just incredible," Paxton said. "There is no way they get the credit they deserve. They are in the trenches, dealing directly with the impacts of abuse and neglect and violence and substance abuse in our communities."

Published: April 12, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180419985