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Settlement Sends Funds toward Crisis Prevention for Mental Ill - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Fraud Settlement Sends Funds toward Crisis Prevention for Mentally Ill

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Law enforcement agencies in the Charlottesville area and the Shenandoah Valley are getting some big bucks this week to help better respond to situations involving the mentally ill.

The new funding is part of a huge, $1.5 billion Medicaid fraud settlement reached in 2011, after the office of the Virginia attorney general led an investigation into Abbott Laboratories for illegally promoting one of its drugs. The state is set to receive $115 million dollars for its role in the investigation, with $4.2 million going to help law enforcement train officers in crisis intervention for the mentally ill.

The Charlottesville area was one of the first in the state to establish a multi-jurisdictional crisis intervention group, the Thomas Jefferson Area Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). It will receive $111,726 to help pay for training and equipment.

Funding will help officers recognize and communicate with people coping with mental or emotional challenges. The funding will also help pay for videos to train instructors, laptops and advanced training to diffuse potentially dangerous situations. 

"Not only is it a best practice in American law enforcement, but it's the right thing to do," Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said.

The Waynesboro Police Department will receive $236,150 for training and equipment inside the Blue Ridge CIT, made up of the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, Staunton police, Waynesboro police, Highland County police, and the regional state police.

"Really it's just the sustainability of the program going forward, because we all believe in it so much," said Waynesboro Police Capt. Kelly Walker.

Albemarle County Police also requested almost $400,000 for crisis intervention training and equipment, but that request is still waiting on approval from the Treasury Department.

The Attorney General's office is also waiting on US Treasury Department approval for other uses of settlement funds, including the purchase of two new armored police vehicles, $30 million to help fund state law enforcement retirement shortfalls, funding for prosecutor training, and funding for the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial.

In light of the ongoing federal government shutdown, it is unclear when those funds will be approved.

 

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