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AHCS Crisis Intervention Team Receives Assessment Site Grant

Covington, Va (Jan. 10, 2019) - Alleghany Highlands Community Services received notification recently from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services that it was awarded a Crisis Intervention Team Assessment Site funding ongoing grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in the amount of $536,616 for FY’ 2019 and 2020. The Crisis Intervention Teams are programs that bring together local stakeholders, including law enforcement officers, mental health treatment providers, consumers of mental health services and other first responders in order to improve the process of intervening with someone who is experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Assessment Site is a non-criminal justice setting where persons with mental illness can be taken by law enforcement officers in lieu of arrest or incarceration. The Assessment Site is designed to enable police officers or sheriff’s deputies to take a person experiencing a mental health crisis for quick and appropriate mental health assessment and therapeutic treatment. These persons are often in the officer’s care under an involuntary order for their own safety, and must remain in custody until assessed and treated. This process has historically kept law enforcement officers tied up and away from other law enforcement duties for lengthy periods of time. The Assessment Sites allow for the best and fastest outcome for the mental health consumer and quick return of officers to their regular law enforcement duties. 

The CIT Assessment Sites serve to support ongoing Jail Diversion Initiatives by:

     â€˘     Providing a therapeutic environment for assessment and possible diversion from arrest and further involvement in criminal justice system; and

     â€˘     Improving access to services for individuals with behavioral health concerns who come into contact with law enforcement by referring individuals in need of mental health services to crisis stabilization units, inpatient treatment, and community-based treatment.

Ingrid Barber, Executive Director for AHCS, described the award as being extremely beneficial to our community, especially for our local law enforcement agencies and the individuals experiencing a behavioral health emergency. Barber stated that "the funding makes it possible to have a site where an individual who is experiencing a behavioral health emergency and is under an emergency custody order can be transported to the site by a law enforcement officer who then will be able to transfer custody to a Crisis Intervention Team law enforcement officer working at the CIT site. The transporting officer will be able to return to their community." Barber went on to explain that "we believe that this will significantly reduce the time that law enforcement spends on these particular situations."

The CIT Assessment site will be staffed by a CIT Program Supervisor, Emergency Crisis Counselor, Peer Support Specialists, and CIT trained law enforcement officers. Individuals transported to the site will receive a prescreening assessment and a determination will be made regarding the course of intervention and treatment.

Additionally, Barber sited the support of the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and Regional Jail, the Covington Police Department, the Clifton Forge Police Department, LewisGale Hospital Alleghany, and all those that have participated in the CIT training as being instrumental in bringing the CIT funding to this area. Barber stated, "We never would have gotten funding without the commitment and support of our community partners."

The Assessment Center is slated to be fully operational by June 1, 2019. The CIT model was originally developed by the Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department, and has subsequently spread throughout the State of Virginia and the country.


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