Twenty-five police officers from multiple Carroll County law enforcement agencies recently graduated from the sixth Carroll County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training class.
The police agencies included the Westminster Police Department, the Mount Airy Police Department, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Carroll County Detention Center, Carroll Community College Campus Police Department, McDaniel College Department of Campus Safety, and the Maryland State Police
The ceremonies, led by Westminster Police Captain Tom Kowalczyk, were held Nov. 8 at the Carroll County Public Safety Training Center.
Kowalczyk, who also serves the community as an EMS provider, explained CIT “for those that are not familiar with or do not fully understand what CIT is. ... Crisis Intervention Team members learn and develop skills that will allow both law enforcement officers and correctional officers to safely and compassionately interact with individuals who suffer from behavioral health crisis and mental health issues.”
CIT team members “connect individuals who have behavioral health issues and mental health issues with community services when they are in crisis before situations reach a point where they may be arrested or require an emergency petition.”
CIT team members “reduce the number of individuals who suffer from behavioral health issues or mental health issues from coming in contact with the criminal justice system because of their behavioral or mental health issues,” said Kowalczyk
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The sixth graduating class consisted of: CD Chester Arnott, PCOII Mary Anne Brauer, CD Michael Boyd, Cpl. Crystal Cavanaugh, Sgt. Stephen Curry, Lt. Mark Devilbiss, MD Vernon Dorsey, PFC Allen Ecker, MD Reuben Gill, DFC Logan Helwig, and Cpl Michael Lingg. Ofr Jordon Longo, Sgt. Jon McGee, DFC Scott Morgan, DFC Corey Moser, TFC Robert Pettis, Ofr Mindy Phillips, DFC Nick Rhoads, PFC Alexander Sirois, Ofr Brian Smith, DFC Chris Stonesifer, DFC Dante Swinton, Jr., DFC Own Turner, SPO Sherri Warner, and DFC Joe Zambito.
Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer (U.S Army Major, retired), a Carroll County veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, emphasized the importance of the CIT training in today’s law enforcement environment.
“I want to thank all of the police agencies for their commitment to the CIT program. We have made a lot of progress and we have participation of almost all of our jurisdictions," Singer said. "I applaud the commitment of the leadership in the police agencies throughout the County in supporting this important collaborative effort. We know the amount of time that this takes you away from your normal job is a huge commitment.
“Law Enforcement has changed a lot over the years and you all are expected to do all kinds of things you were never expected to be in the past," Singer continued. “Our CIT-trained officers are able to keep themselves and individuals with behavioral health issues safe by employing the training you all have learned this week. Not only are you all able to assess when someone is a danger to themselves or others and emergency petition them when needed, but you are able to prevent unnecessary arrests and hospitalizations. Last year CIT officers in Carroll County were able to keep almost 200 people with behavioral health issues out of jail and/or the hospital. …
“People with mental illness deserve the respect and dignity that anyone else deserves. I know your training will provide you with tools to assist when you encounter people in the community. Thank you for the compassion and taking the time to understand these issues.”
At that, Singer was joined by Carroll County Commissioner Steve Wantz. Together they announced McDaniel College Campus Safety Officer Tom Davis as the CIT Officer of the Year for his work with the students at McDaniel.
The audience included Westminster Councilwoman Ann Thomas Gilbert; Veronica Dietz, Carroll County Health Department Crisis Services; Carol Carr-Meinecke, NAMI Carroll County; and more than 100 law enforcement officers and their families.