Training will help responders with mental health, addiction situations

May 3—RUSHVILLE — People battling a mental illness or substance abuse/addiction problem will have a better chance of getting the help they need thanks to a recent Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training that took place in Rush County.

According to Rush County Court Services Director Ashley Stevens, the CIT program is a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families and other advocates.

It is an innovative first-responder model of a police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions access medical treatment rather than place them in the criminal justice system due to illness related behaviors.

It promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis. The CIT provides a forum for effective problem solving regarding the interaction between the criminal justice and mental health care system and creates the context for sustainable change.

"I strongly believe that acknowledging the efforts, commitment, and willingness of our officers and all individuals involved in the training to comprehend and address our community's needs is of utmost significance," Stevens stated in a news release received by the Daily News.

Rush County initiated a CIT Steering Committee in January 2023.

"During the planning for this first training, both Chief of Police Craig Tucker and Chief Deputy Josh Brinson played a vital role," Stevens stated. "Several others took on leadership roles within the committee: Susan Eakins and Sherri Rudolf with Rush Memorial Hospital, Judge Brian Hill of Rush County Superior Court and myself."

In 2023, Rush County had just two individuals with prior CIT training. Today, there are now have 21 certified individuals, including law enforcement, first-responders, dispatchers, jail leadership, court services leadership and peer recovery specialists.

"This significant progress is truly remarkable for our county," Stevens said.