The accolades keep on coming for an Ohio police officer who first learned Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) skills through a local training program that is part of a statewide initiative led by Northeast Ohio Medical University.
Patrolman Jerome Fatzinger of the Wooster (Ohio) Police Department was named the International CIT First Responder of the Year at the CIT International Conference in Phoenix in August. This follows the announcement In April that Patrolman Fatzinger was named the 2021 State of Ohio CIT Officer of the Year award.
The number of law enforcement and mental health collaboration programs is rising across the United States, and CIT programs, developed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1988, are often considered the gold standard. Ohio adopted CIT programs in 2000, with Akron and Toledo becoming the first two jurisdictions to implement the training.
NEOMED’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJCCoE), established in 2001 to promote jail diversion alternatives throughout Ohio for people with mental illness, serves as the statewide technical assistance center for Crisis Intervention Teams, in collaboration with NAMI Ohio.
De-Escalation Skills at Work
CIT programs teach de-escalation skills to be used in law enforcement interventions, particularly when mental health concerns are involved. Patrolman Fatzinger completed his CIT 40-hour training through the Wayne/Holmes Counties CIT program in 2010.
Since then, Patrolman Fatzinger has become an advocate for the training of law enforcement officers, EMS/Fire and dispatch personnel. He currently serves as a member of the Wayne/Holmes Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Advisory Council.
CIT at NEOMED
Ruth Simera, M.Ed., executive director of the Coordinating Centers of Excellence, who was present for the award presentation in Phoenix, said, “We commend Patrolman Fatzinger for his compassionate and skilled service to the community and for his advocacy of CIT programs, which bring together law enforcement, mental health professionals, advocates, people living with mental illness and their families, and other partners to improve community responses to people experiencing mental health crises.
“We are deeply grateful for the work he does to disseminate and advocate for the training he received, to support other officers and law enforcement administrators, and to contribute to the work of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence at NEOMED in enhancing CIT programs around the state,” Simera said.
Today, more than 13,000 Ohio law enforcement officers from 76% of the state’s law enforcement agencies have completed CIT training across all 88 Ohio counties. There are 43 regional programs covering 83 of the 88 counties.