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DBHDS Press Releases

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2009
 

Governor Kaine Announces Grants to Establish Crisis Intervention Teams
~ ~ Five grants to help localities create teams of law enforcement officer and mental health professionals ~ ~
 

RICHMONDGovernor Timothy M. Kaine announced today that the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), in conjunction with the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, has awarded grants totaling $200,000 to five local mental health agencies that will enable them to establish Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs). The teams will consist of specially-trained law enforcement officers and mental health treatment professionals who enhance law enforcement’s response to situations involving persons with mental illness or disability.

“Establishment of Crisis Intervention Teams will help law enforcement respond appropriately to situations involving individuals with mental illness or mental disability,” Governor Kaine said. “The teams will help keep our officers safe, as well individuals they encounter who may be mentally ill or disabled.”

 The five grants issued by DCJS are: 

  • Alexandria Community Services Board                             $48,000.00
  • Chesapeake Community Services Board                            $26,122.00
  • Henrico Area Mental Health and Retardation Services      $49,593.00
  • Richmond Behavioral Health Authority                              $50,163.00
  • Valley Community Services Board (Staunton area)            $26,122.00

Each recipient will establish a task force that includes law enforcement, mental health services providers and other stakeholders to coordinate the CIT program. The goals program include: 1) enhancing law enforcement’s response to situations involving persons with mental illness or disability; 2) diverting individuals with mental illness, when appropriate, from involvement with the criminal justice system and possible incarceration; and 3) reducing the potential for injury to law enforcement officers or individuals with mental illness. Specialized training will be provided to at least 25% of the local law enforcement agency’s patrol force. 

CIT’s have been strongly advocated by the Commonwealth Consortium for Mental Health/ Criminal Justice Transformation, established by Governor Kaine in 2008 through Executive Order 62 with the dual purpose of preventing unnecessary involvement of persons with mental illness in the Virginia criminal justice system, and promoting public safety by improving access to needed mental health treatment for persons with mental illness for whom arrest and incarceration cannot be prevented. 

The funds for these grants come from an appropriation approved by the General Assembly earlier this year.  The appropriation, totaling $400,000, will support the five CIT projects over a two year period. 

Response to individuals with mental illness represents one of the most challenging situations law enforcement officers encounter.  In some instances, it can be dangerous and is nearly always time-consuming, taking law enforcement officers away from the community and other enforcement duties.  Officers often spend many hours transporting and staying with such persons while they are evaluated and then committed for treatment. Law enforcement officers are often neither effectively trained nor equipped to handle such persons in a proper manner.  Mental health treatment resources and facilities are scarce in many of Virginia’s localities and transport to distant locations is an added complication.  CIT programs provide both training and a means for addressing these issues.   

In recent years, a number of localities in Virginia have established CITs, based on a model developed in Memphis, Tennessee.  The New River Valley Mental Health Association in Blacksburg has pioneered the use of the CIT concept in Virginia

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