Stating that when budget cuts come around, the most “at need” are truly the first affected, Sheriff David Shoar introduced Historic City News and other media representatives to the first class of Crisis Intervention Team trainees from local law enforcement and social services agencies in St. Johns County.
Shoar remarked that often, calls for law enforcement services involve citizens who suffer from mental illness and other emotional problems brought on by their conditions. Through the implementation of a Crisis Intervention Team, officers with specialized training will be better prepared to recognize warning signs and be better able to cope safely with the special needs of this segment of our population.
One of today’s instructors said “Officer safety is the first priority”. Sheriff Shoar said that we have the capability to identify homes where previous calls for service have uncovered occupants suffering mental health or other emotional problems in order for first responders to be on guard before they arrive on the scene.
Administering to the mental health needs of our citizens is an important “core function” of law enforcement and public service agencies, according to Shoar. Treatment programs for those incarcerated in our jails, similar to the one started in St. Johns County, are vital programs of which Shoar is very proud.
In today’s class, students of Dr. Tina Jaeckle, Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Flagler College, came to the afternoon session to participate in “role playing” with the CIT trainees.
The program, modeled after a program adopted by the City of Memphis, has been in development here for the past 18 months. Each trainee will complete 40 hours of classroom and practical training, but, more than that, participants receive orientation to the idea that the community is best served through partnerships between local government, law enforcement agencies, mental health providers, advocacy groups such as the Mental Health Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness and the families and consumers of mental health services.