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Martin praises Crisis Intervention Team training

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin recently praised the value of Crisis Intervention Team training provided to Lehigh County Law Enforcement and the Hub Model used by Upper Macungie police.

CIT training is an international model for training first responders, specifically police, about what mental illness is as well as what constitutes intellectual disabilities and other disabilities which affect mental health.

The training is being provided to members of law enforcement in Lehigh County.

CIT training originated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1989. The training enhances officers’ skills to provide appropriate assistance when they are called on scene to assist those in crisis with varying problems as well as to help those individuals access the services and the resources needed to meet their needs or help in crises.

Training is a five-day, eight-hour per day program.

During those five days, officers hear presentations from 30 different speakers representing various services and resources germane to the mission and learning objectives for CIT training.

The program is coordinated by S. Drew Taylor, director of the Lehigh County Special Program for Offenders in Rehabilitation and Education.

“It is a testament to the value of CIT program that the speakers who volunteer their time and expertise to present at these trainings do so willingly and eagerly,” Taylor said of the program and his role as coordinator.

“They enthusiastically respond to my requests to speak because they see such benefit in CIT training for law enforcement.”

There have been five annual CIT classes with 88 officers trained representing 12 Lehigh County municipal police departments, as well as the Lehigh County Sheriff’s Office and campus police from Cedar Crest and Muhlenberg colleges.

Lehigh County Department of Human Services is now in partnership with county police departments through CIT training.

“One of the many great benefits of CIT training in Lehigh County has been the collaborative relationships, which continue to result in helping people,” Taylor said.

Another example of collaboration between Human Services and law enforcement is the Hub Model, a collaborative program which originated in Canada, and is now being implemented by the Upper Macungie Police Department.

The local program has recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

The Hub Model’s structure uses a police-generated meeting, which includes attendees from various human service as well as community resources and departments.

At these sessions, the various participants endeavor to identify and to help those individuals with mental health issues who have had repeated interactions with either law enforcement or human services to access appropriate treatment and services.

Resources of the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center have facilitated this program by supplying data to better identify individuals who are in need of treatment or services.

Taylor, who is a regular contributor and attendee at this meeting, says the Hub Model is showing positive results.

“We are better able to identify and aid members of our community in accessing appropriate support in a timely manner,” Taylor said.

“I commend Chief Edgardo Colón and the officers of the Upper Macungie Police Department, particularly Lt. Peter Nickischer and Officer William Rohrbach, for implementing this initiative,” Martin said.

Lehigh County networks through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to develop CIT programing throughout Pennsylvania, and Lehigh County participates in PCCD’s statewide CIT conference.

“I feel it’s important for the public to be aware of what members of law enforcement in our county are doing to learn how to better interact with individuals who are coping with mental health problems,” Martin said. “I thank Drew Taylor for his efforts in facilitating and structuring the CIT program to meet not only law enforcement’s but also the community’s needs.

“I am proud of the work being done in Lehigh County to address this issue by providing members of law enforcement with the tools they need to help these individuals receive the help and services they need and to which they are entitled.”