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First Responders Complete Training to Help Them Better Handle Mental Illness Encounters

Jan 30

Jan. 30, 2019 – Local first responders recently completed training through a collaborative program between Richmond Community College and Sandhills Center that will help them respond better and more effectively when a situation involves someone struggling with a mental illness.First responders stand on the steps of the Rockingham Police Department.

Thirteen personnel from Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Rockingham Police Department, Hamlet Police Department and Moore County EMS completed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training that was held Jan. 14-18 at Rockingham Police Department.

CIT trains first responders to understand people who are experiencing mental health, intellectual/developmental disabilities and substance use challenges. They learn skills to de-escalate situations and how to recognize people in crisis so they can get the help they need. The program also teaches first responders how to encourage people who need treatment to access these services.

“The CIT program has positive outcomes for both law enforcement and the mental health system,” said Neil Parrisher, director of Public Safety for RichmondCC. “It reduces the injury rate among officers as well as among people with mental illness. It also reduces costs for the criminal justice system if these type of situations are handled properly in collaboration with the right agencies and the right resources.”

Each year about 25,000 people with severe mental illness end up in North Carolina jails. Encounters between these individuals and law enforcement officers can sometimes end tragically.

“This type of training is very valuable for law enforcement,” Parrisher said. “It makes our officers more knowledgeable about mental illness and more confident when dealing with someone facing these challenges. It helps us better serve the public and creates more collaboration within our community.”

The next CIT training will be in the fall. To learn more or to register for the next course, contact Parrisher at or call (910) 410-1708.

CIT Training Brochure