On July 13, then Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare called the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) to join him for a community policing announcement. They did not know that Altomare was announcing that they had won the International Crisis Intervention Team of the Year award.
The CIT in Anne Arundel County is part of the larger Crisis Intervention Team International (CIT International), a nonprofit organization that trains police officers and mental health officials to work together in crisis situations.
“It is an integration of law enforcement and mental health,” said Lieutenant Steven Thomas of the Anne Arundel County Crisis Intervention Team. “The officers have a passion to help and the CIT training humanizes policing.”
In Anne Arundel County, the team is made up of a lieutenant, a sergeant and four officers. An additional 141 patrol officers are trained in CIT and will respond to crisis calls.
“It is expected that officers who are trained in CIT will respond if they hear a call come out and they have the passion and training to respond,” Thomas explained.
Becoming CIT certified is voluntary and requires 40 hours of mental health training for police, as well as a 30-hour Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) training. Officers are then paired with mental health clinicians.
These officers respond to shootings, youth deaths, fatal accidents and any other crisis situation where mental health may play a factor. The CIT officers also work with troubled juveniles with mental health issues to keep them from getting in trouble again.
“We build a bridge and we build that bridge in non-adversarial times,” Thomas said. “We are there to help people in their time of need, and the community definitely sees police in a different light.”
For the CIT officers and clinicians, this award is reassurance that their hard work in the community has paid off. The team will continue to look for new ways to make Anne Arundel County a safe place for all residents.
“It's a great honor to be recognized by the worldwide experts for the work we do,” Thomas said. “But it also means we need to continue to be progressive and be innovative in how we help people.”