CIT Conference Works to Keep Mentally Ill Out of Jail
On Monday, the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) kicked off its CIT conference at Charlottesville's Omni Hotel in hopes of helping law enforcement officials keep mentally ill people out of jails.
According to Victoria Cochran, the state coordinator for behavioral health, 25 percent of people that end up in jail may not belong there. It's not because they didn't actually commit a crime, but because they have a mental illness.
"It's inappropriate for them to be there because jails are not equipped to provide the treatment and services that they need," said Cochran.
Charlottesville's law enforcement is doing its part to help solve that problem.
CIT began its second annual conference to create better ways to serve those with mental illnesses who come in contact with the criminal justice system. The group's efforts strive to train individuals who come in contact with the mentally ill to make sure each situation has a positive ending.
Charlottesville CIT Coordinator Tom Vonhemert said, "The training works on de-escalation skills working on community resources and developing better protocols and procedures to help everybody."
The conference allows the 30 CIT programs in Virginia to collaborate. In Charlottesville, 75 percent of law enforcement are CIT trained as well as all 911 dispatchers. The goal is to have 100 percent of law enforcement officials ready to deal with individuals with mental illness.
On Tuesday, the organization will be honoring seven law enforcement officials, mental health providers and others in the community as it wraps up the conference.