NORFOLK, VA – The Norfolk Police Department and Norfolk Community Services Board officially launched the Norfolk Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program in October 2014. Nearly one year after the inaugural debut, the Virginia CIT Coalition awarded Norfolk as the 2015 Virginia CIT Program of the Year. Additionally, Norfolk Police Department’s Lieutenant Wayne Handley was honored as the 2015 Lambert/Ratcliffe Trainer of the Year.
Such noteworthy beginnings did not evolve alone. The Norfolk Police Department and the Norfolk Community Services Board were provided amazing support from across the state to build the solid foundation the program now stands upon.
Numerous Virginia CIT Coalition programs provided encouragement, direction and specialized training. In particular, the Hampton-Newport News CIT program provided mentorship and invaluable guidance. Strong support also came from Norfolk’s community partners and city departments, to include:
• Norfolk NAMI
• The Chas Foundation
• Norfolk Emergency Operations Center
• The Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities
• Norfolk City Council
• The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
• Norfolk Sheriff's Office
• Norfolk Magistrate’s Office
• Norfolk City Attorney’s Office
• Virginia General Assembly
• Norfolk Office of Budget & Strategic Planning
• Eastern Virginia Medical School
• Norfolk Courts
• Norfolk Sheriff's Office
With a vast support system in place, the Norfolk CIT program has enhanced community collaboration, developed a stable infrastructure and provided outstanding training to improve the city’s response to individuals with mental health illnesses. Specialized training courses have enabled officers and community service members to more effectively communicate with and understand the particular needs of individuals with mental illness. As well, hundreds of employees have already received the intensive CIT training, to include:
• All emergency dispatchers
• Over 230 police officers
• 35 community members
• All Community Services Board members
“Since February 2015, Norfolk police have responded to nearly 300 mental illness calls for service. During these calls, there were no injuries to any citizen and 88 were resolved through de-escalation techniques and dialogue, without having to transport the person in crisis to another facility. This is success in its simplest form.” -Chief Michael Goldsmith
The opening of the CIT Assessment Center provides the centerpiece of accolades that garnishes Norfolk’s first year. But, the encouragement and support of the many foundations, departments, offices, and their people, laid the foundation for Norfolk’s continued success.