KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A group of 25 East Tennessee law enforcement officers, first responders and medical staff completed Crisis Intervention Team training on Friday, July 29, 2022.

The lack of mental health crisis services across the U.S. means that often law enforcement officers respond to a large majority of mental health crises. CIT training helps provide officers with the tools necessary to help those in crisis.

CIT-trained officers completed 40 hours of intensive training that helps assist people in a mental health crisis. According to the McNabb Center, the training helps officers connect with mental health professionals and other community agencies to create a team that will provide support when a crisis occurs. Officers also learn de-escalation skills and go through scenario-based training on responding to crises.

“CIT training has numerous benefits to both the trained officers, other participants and the community at large,” said Candace Allen, CIT coordinator and senior director of adult intensive mental health services at the McNabb Center. “Graduates can use their training to divert individuals from jail when appropriate and assist them in accessing treatment.”

This graduating class will take their training back to the University of Tennessee Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville Fire Department, Lenoir City Police Department, Morristown Police Department and American Medical Response (AMR). For Knoxville Police, a total of 80 officers have now completed the training.

The McNabb Center helps support more than 36,750 people throughout East Tennessee each year through mental health, substance use, and social and victim services.