Dedication, service and courage—these were the three words stressed by Ebony Rao of the Mecklenburg County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) regarding the UNC Charlotte’s Police and Public Safety Department, which received an award for its actions taken on April 30.
During the recent fourth annual CIT Community Awareness and Recognition event Rao thanked PPS Chief Jeff Baker for volunteering with the organization. The Mecklenburg County CIT program began in 2008 as part of the county’s pre-booking jail diversion efforts. The local program is heavily based in recovery and trauma-informed principles. It has three components: intensive training; strong, collaborative law enforcement and provider partnerships; and significant consumer and family involvement. CIT’s primary purpose is to reduce harm and increase diversion from jail to treatment. CIT training equips police officers to deal swiftly and thoughtfully with crisis situations.
Shifting her comments to the department’s collective work on April 30 and the days that followed, Rao said, “As a community, as a campus and as a program, we thank the UNC Charlotte Police Department for their dedication, service and courage before, during, and after the crisis that has impacted our communities. We thank you for participating in CIT, and we thank you for demonstrating what the power of crisis intervention is all about.”
According to Baker, the UNC Charlotte Police Department’s community coordinators, along with several other officers, are CIT-trained. He stated his goal is for all officers to receive this training.
“CIT training for law enforcement officers is critical in that it provides a host of solutions to high stress situations that involve mental illness, drug addiction and suicide. Officers throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg have been provided with techniques that de-escalate what consistently can lead to less-than-lethal outcomes,” he said.
The event’s program included award presentations to a list of other individuals and community partners, as well as a keynote message from Tommy Rieman, director of philanthropy for Veterans Bridge Home.
Since its inception, the Mecklenburg County CIT has trained 1,400-plus law enforcement members.