Officer John Pettit of the Brimfield Police Department and Officer Anne Spahr of the Kent State University Police Department were recognized as Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officers of the Year by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County and the Portage County Police Chiefs Association.
The officers were awarded for practicing the communication and de-escalation techniques they learned during their CIT training in dealing with individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis or are struggling with addiction.
In at least two incidents within the past year Officer Pettit utilized the skills learned through CIT training to assist with suicidal individuals. Through an empathetic approach, he was able to convince people to get help and defuse potentially violent encounters.
He then was able to connect the individuals with needed mental health resources.
After evaluating the one of the incidents, Sgt Pettit stated “the CIT training was huge in ge
tting [the individual] calmed down and cooperative with the officers.”
Kent State Police Officer Spahr responded to nine CIT calls this past year as the primary officer and three as the supporting officer. In all cases, Officer Spahr displayed remarkable compassion and patience in dealing with people experiencing emotional trauma.
In nominating Officer Spahr, Chief Tondiglia stated, “Officer Spahr has a calm and caring demeanor and is very successful in helping people in need, whether it is someone with suicidal ideations, bipolar disorder, or paranoid personality disorder, which are all examples of situations that Anne has managed very successfully this past year.”
Joel Mowrey, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County explained that the CIT training is designed to create partnerships between law enforcement, behavioral health professionals, service recipients, and their families. “CIT helps to provide a forum for effective community problem solving and communication to help our residents in Portage County who are in crisis. We have numerous real-life examples of Police Officers in the County, trained in the CIT Program model, saving lives, getting people the help they need, and keeping people out of the criminal justice system,” said Mowrey.
Since 2006, more than 250 officers have completed the class in Portage County. Every law enforcement agency in the county has CIT officers. The course is supported nationwide by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The Officers of the Year were recognized at a ceremony by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, the Portage County Police Chiefs Association and the Portage County Sheriff’s Office. Left to right: William Nome, Mental Health & Recovery Board; Captain Christopher Adkins, Brimfield Police, Chief Roy Mosley, Brimfield Police; CIT Officer of the Year John Pettit, Brimfield Police; Sgt. Eric Wells, Akron Police; CIT Officer of the Year Anne Spahr, KSU Police; Chief Dean Tondiglia, KSU Police; Sgt. Michquel Penn, Kent State University Police; Sheriff David Doak, Dr. Joel Mowrey, Mental Health & Recovery Board.