Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $250,000)
Crisis Response Intervention Training (CRIT) was designed to aid law enforcement officers in their response to citizens experiencing a crisis due to mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental delay. For years, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training has been offered to all public safety department within Prince George's County (the County), Maryland. The County's correctional officers who have been able to participate, consistently reported that although the didactic information regarding mental illness and addiction was relevant and useful, the practical application and scenario-based learning was not. The corrections environment is unique and brings with it a specific set of challenges within a secure facility.
In 2019, the Development, Education, and Training (DET) section at Prince George's County Department of Corrections (PGDOC) adapted CIT training moules to tailor the training to address specific needs within the jail. PGDOC proposes to expand its CIT training to include the entire staff who have direct contact with arrestees and detainees and offer the training to other correctional facilities within the region. The requested funds will be used for curriculum expansion and evaluation to determine the effectiveness of the training. Community partners include Bowie State University, a historically Black university, Autism FYI, Mental Health First Aid, Inc., and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
The PGDOC jail is a 36-year-0ld facility built for direct supervision. Correctional officers manage and spend their entire shift in direct contact with the inmate population who are out of their cells most of the day. It is a design that presents both challenges and strengths. Unlike the CIT model that relies on a team of individuals to respond to someone in crisis, in a 24/7 facility where the personnel rotate frequently due to chronic staff shortages, the goal is to train the entire staff, both civilian and sworn, to be equipped to recognize signs and symptoms, to deescalate situations that arise, and initiate appropriate referrals. It will all the jail to have a common langauge and strategies for addressing behavioral health crises.
In addtion to the training itself, grant funds will be used to develop measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, not just for the sake of reporting but to ensure the crisis response intervention techniques become standard practice. A behavioral health approach represents a paradigm shift in security that will need periodic reinforcement through additonal training.