For the sixth time, students from a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training class visited Perry Wellness Center. The class, hosted by the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office, included 17 students, comprised of members of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Department and Police, the Albany Police, SWGA Airport Security, and probation and parole officers from surrounding counties. The group enjoyed a day on our campus, where they learned more about the nature of mental illness and our peer model for support and treatment.
The CIT training is a result of collaboration between The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia and NAMI Albany, The Georgia Chiefs of Police, The Georgia Sheriff’s Association, The Georgia Department of Corrections, and public behavioral health providers. The week-long class teaches participants how to help someone in crisis get the treatment and supports they need. Most officers say it is the best class they’ve ever taken.
Sue Marlowe, long-time CIT facilitator, commented, "Our CIT trainings and team have a great partnership and common mission with Perry Wellness Center.” She explained the importance of crisis intervention training for area law enforcement: “We must learn that when law enforcement witnesses a nonviolent crime, and mental illness is involved, wherever possible we need to get help for the individual instead of incarceration. Our jails are overcrowded, and taxpayers would see greater savings by treating people in the community instead of the much more expensive county jails. Since many people are traumatized further by their incarceration, treatment for this biological illness in jail is inappropriate.”
Upon arrival, peer Rhonda Hubbard escorted the group of law enforcement professionals on an extensive tour of the wellness campus. The group heard group discussions, shared one-on-one dialog with peers and enjoyed a lavish lunch with peers and staff.
After several training team visits, we have discovered a familiar pattern: as acceptance and trust increase with these visits, dialogue is exchanged and friendships formed. To facilitate this process, a team volleyball challenge is organized during each visit.
During the recent campus visit, Perry Wellness Center founder Stuart Perry welcomed the guests and previewed future plans. "We are indeed excited to have you on our campus. On your next visit, additional structures and garden areas will be underway.”
Ever the salesman, Stuart added: “If you would like to take a hanging basket back to a friend or spouse, we can give you a $2 discount on your purchase."
Before their departure back to Dougherty County, many of the class visited the Happy Patch Market to purchase fresh produce, ceramic pots and peer-made creations.
The latest CIT team was scheduled to graduate on February 28. We look forward to their compassionate work in our communities.
Here, members of the current class of the Crisis Intervention Team gather with Stuart Perry to view construction on the newest potting shed/greenhouse on campus.