Correctional professionals from 12 agencies complete week-long program
CHELMSFORD – 26 correctional professionals from a dozen agencies recently completed a week-long Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training course, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced on September 25. The training, which is offered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections (NIC), is designed to provide officers and other correctional staff with the skills necessary to successfully interact and respond to individuals in custody with mental illness.
Nationwide, the prevalence of individuals with mental illness in county jails is one of the most significant challenges facing correctional agencies. In Middlesex County in 2017, 48 percent of all new individuals entering the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction reported a history of mental illness.
“I want to thank the National Institute of Corrections for bringing this vital training program to Massachusetts,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “The expertise and resources NIC brings to the table in this area are second-to-none, and we continue to be appreciative of the valuable assistance they have provided with this and other critical efforts we have undertaken to not only train our staff, but assist those we are charged with caring for by the courts.”
The training was presented by NIC through a technical assistance grant secured by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) and was opened to offices from across New England. It included classroom presentations on items ranging from understanding mental illness to de-escalation skills. Participants also took part in a lived experience panel moderated by NAMI Massachusetts (part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness), as well as scenario-based exercises.
As a result of this course, participants have been provided with the skill and knowledge to help develop and implement CIT training at each of their respective agencies.
In total, personnel from 11 sheriff’s offices from Massachusetts and Maine, as well as one department of correction, completed the training, which was held at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Training Academy in Chelmsford.