Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $149,897)
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) along with Mental Health providers, NAMI, CIT Chapters, and the communities/citizens we serve have identified the need to have deputies trained with special skills in dealing with and helping people in crisis or with mental illness. Our goal is to refer individuals to proper community resources rather than incarceration. The decision was made to implement the CIT National Training Program. This program will allow deputies to learn the CIT concept in a classroom setting that includes Mental health providers. This fosters a positive working relationship with law enforcement and the community. Deputies will participate in hands-on exercises during training that emphasize de-escalating persons in crisis. Training focuses on differentiating between circumstances where exigent officer or public safety concerns exist that require immediate action and circumstances in which time and the opportunity to make tactical decisions that allow for distance and shielding permit deputies to slow down the course of events, potentially mitigating the need to use force. By integrating crisis intervention training as a core skill across multiple disciplines, deputies evaluate each incident for symptomatic behaviors of a behavioral crisis as well as the need for and feasibility of de-escalation. This process, in turn, reinforces CIT / De-Escalation concepts in all training scenarios.
We are seeking this grant to be able to train JCSO sworn personnel in the CIT program as well as help any agency in Alabama, especially smaller municipalities in Jefferson County, train their personnel. In July, we held the first 40-hour course with 24 participants. Plans to host the Instructor Course is forthcoming. As the largest county in Alabama, we feel this grant would not only benefit the JCSO but law enforcement agencies throughout the state. It is our plan to
implement the training for all deputies, identify personnel who will be a fit for the CIT designation, and continue to offer the 40-hour training over the next three years. The JCSO would be training approximately 520 deputies plus those from other agencies. Agencies from around the state have reached out for assistance in developing their own crisis response structures and programs. To meet this growing demand, this will be a program the JCSO training staff will be committed to continue after the grant ends.
This grant would make a tremendous impact on the law enforcement and mental health relationship in Jefferson County as well as in Alabama.