Georgia steps up public safety training for situations involving mental health

Press Release from Georgia Public Safety Training Center

The Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and the Georgia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently announced the expansion of the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program©. This will now increase training opportunities for law enforcement with regard to dealing with incidents involving various types of mental illnesses. This also includes addictive disease and other disorders, including autism and alzheimer’s disease.

The expansion of the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program will set new goals for others to reach in mental health training across the nation,” GPSTC Director Chris Wigginton said in a press release last week announced the expansion of this program.

According to the release, GPSTC, DBHDD, NAMI, and other mental health advocates are working together to provide training to law enforcement as well as others in local communities. Officials believe this will assist those experiencing a mental health crisis and provide a better service to the communities. The plan is to provide about 200 CIT classes each year, thereby giving more law enforcement agencies the opportunity to receive this training.

The GPSTC CIT Section’s main office will be located at the GPSTC campus in Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia and will employ 10 POST certified law enforcement officers with extensive CIT backgrounds. These officers will travel the state to deliver the program and will collaborate with local law enforcement agencies, local behavioral healthcare providers, and mental health advocates to teach CIT in local Georgia communities.

“We are very excited about this new partnership with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center,” said DBHDD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald.  “The incorporation of CIT into the statewide law enforcement training package is a testament to the quality and success of the program, which has trained approximately 10,000 officers in Georgia since 2004.  This expansion under GPSTC, with the continued expert support of NAMI, will increase the reach of this life-saving training that supports a better understanding of the unique challenges of responding to people with mental illnesses, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities, which contributes to the public safety.”

About DBHDD

DBHDD provides treatment and support services to people with mental health challenges and substance use disorders and assists individuals who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

About NAMI

NAMI Georgia is the largest grass-roots, non-profit, mental health advocacy agency in the state.  They are dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with mental illness and those people who care for them.  NAMI offers an array of educational programs, and support not only to individuals with a mental health diagnosis, but also to their caregivers, and their communities.

Law enforcement agencies that are interested in receiving this training, need further information on the program, or locate GPSTC CIT training classes in their area, can contact the GPSTC CIT Section at 478-993-4000, or email the GPSTC CIT Section Manager, GBI Special Agent Debbie Shaw at dshaw@gpstc.org.

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