Crisis Intervention Team Recognizes Outstanding Work
The Alexandria Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) honored nine CIT members at its annual awards luncheon at police headquarters on Tuesday, October 17. Program coordinator Justin Wise joined Mayor Allison Silberberg, City Manager Mark Jinks, Police Chief Michael Brown, Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, and Liz Wixson of the Department of Community and Human Services in recognizing the nine public safety honorees as well as the accomplishments of the entire CIT program.
• Code Inspector Victor Purchase was named “Code Inspector of the Year” for his persistence in engaging an isolated, mentally ill Alexandria homeowner who was not taking care of his property or himself. Inspector Purchase went so far as to track down the individual’s family in order to get the man the help he needed. It is likely the individual would have died on multiple occasions without Inspector Purchase’s intervention.
• Deputy Terri Reed was named “CIT Deputy of the Year” for her consistent dedication to assisting inmates with acute mental health needs. In one case she took decisive action to protect an inmate when he informed her that he was hearing voices directing him to kill himself. In another she took the time to calm and get to know an inmate who was struggling to adapt to being incarcerated after recently having lost her husband.
• Officer Jenifer Ashcroft was named “CIT Officer of the Year” for her intervention with a suicidal juvenile. She was able to calm the juvenile using CIT techniques and learned that in addition to her current suicidal thoughts she had suffered sexual abuse that she had never told anyone about. Officer Ashcroft was able to get the juvenile psychiatrically evaluated and assisted in reporting the sexual abuse.
• CIT Intervention of the Year was awarded to a team of individuals who handled a particularly challenging case: Michelle Albert, Jail Diversion Team Leader; Desha Hall-Winstead, Director of ACJS Pretrial and Probation; Officer Rachel Shockey; Chief Magistrate Adam Willard; CIT Coordinator Justin Wise; and Lt. Ryan Morgan with Fairfax PD. The team assisted an Alexandria resident get transported from Fairfax back to Alexandria to receive treatment after she overdosed on heroin twice in two days. The team came up with a plan for supervised release into the community despite felony drug charges. To date the individual has successfully completed several short-term programs and is currently living in supported housing while participating in treatment.
CIT was developed in collaboration with the DCHS, Police Department and Sheriff’s Office to help improve staff interactions with persons with mental illness and substance use disorders. Since the program began in 2010, more than 500 first responders have completed CIT training.