SAVANNAH, GA (May 9, 2017) – The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program received several awards from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on May 9.

The CIT program is a model for community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, and individuals with mental illness and their families to improve responses to people in crisis. It equips officers with the skills needed to better recognize the signs of mental illness, successfully de-escalate crisis situations using verbal techniques and connect those in need with community resources that can assist them. CIT is a collaborative effort to advance public safety and reduce stigma, aiming to create a Georgia where people with mental illnesses and other behavioral health disorders are treated, not incarcerated.

Chief Joseph Lumpkin accepted the Gold Partnership Award on behalf of SCMPD. This honor is awarded to the agency that provides exemplary support to the Georgia CIT program by providing faculty and/or coordinating site visits for classes.

CIT program coordinator Cpl. Hillary Nielsen received the Most Creative Role Player Award. This honor is awarded to the CIT role player who generates the most creative roleplay scenarios which are able to keep the students interested in the role playing exercises while they learn effective verbal de-escalation skills.

Minna Betancourt, a CIT instructor and community provider, received the Exemplary Faculty Award. This honor is awarded to the faculty member who consistently offers expertise to the CIT program through instruction and learning materials.

SCMPD, Nielsen and Betancourt were selected as recipients of these awards from a statewide pool of nominees.

NAMI Savannah President Alloceia Hall and former CIT Coordinator Sgt. Hiram Rivera also received awards during the ceremony. Both were given the Champion of Recovery award from the NAMI-Savannah Recovery Council in recognition of their ongoing efforts to strengthen the community partnership between law enforcement and those in recovery.

SCMPD offers CIT training to both recruits and seasoned officers. During the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, the department is offering a similar class to others in public service. The Introduction to Behavioral Health and Addictive Disease class is open to all non-sworn law enforcement personnel and any interested first responders. It will be offered May 22-23 at the SCMPD Professional Development Center; 3401 Edwin St. More information is available by contacting Lakesha Boyce at (912) 525-3100 x8989 or Sgt. Hiram Rivera at (912) 667-2523. The class is free for participants. The registration deadline is May 15.