Missoula Crisis Intervention Team Faces Loss of Funding
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The annual training for the Missoula Crisis Intervention team wrapped up on Friday at the currently vacant Mount Jumbo School in East Missoula with media invited in to speak to the participants.
KGVO News spoke to Theresa Williams, Program Manager with the Crisis Intervention Team who provided some important background information about the training.
The Week Long Training ended on Friday with a Graduation Ceremony
“This all falls underneath the Crisis Intervention Team program,” began Williams. “We have 32 students representing law enforcement, first responders, and some service providers that work closely with first responders, and they have been through it all this week. They have heard directly from people with lived experience of having a mental health condition. They've heard from a family member or someone that has a family member with a mental health condition. They've heard directly from veterans, and they've also received a lot of information about signs and symptoms of certain mental health conditions.”
Williams said the essence of CIT training is to de-escalate a crisis situation and get people the help they need without involving the heavy hand of law enforcement in a possible arrest situation.
“Most importantly, they've learned a lot about how to de-escalate someone when in a crisis situation, how to keep everyone safe that's involved in that crisis situation, and how they find the appropriate resource for that person. So the default is not jail or the ER (Emergency Room) if we can keep them in a less restrictive alternative.”
A Missoula Police Officer Explained the Importance of His CIT Training
Missoula Police Officer Dylan Diemer was one of the participants receiving training at the event. He said he received valuable training and tools to help diffuse a possible emergency situation without using force.
“This is another tool in the tool belt,” said Officer Diemer. “I carry a lot of tools that range in necessity and what I need to use them for, and this is another tool that I can employ when available to an individual that might be really amped up really excited, really aggressive,” said Diemer. “We try to use a little bit of what we jokingly call ‘Verbal Judo’, to bring them back down to reality and then hopefully from there, be able to get them into a calmer setting that's not out in the street or in a public place where we can really relax and set up a plan.”
Official Funding will End for CIT at the Close of the Fiscal Year in June
KGVO brought up the fact that since the Crisis Intervention Team’s official funding will end at the close of the fiscal year in June, Williams said she and others are busy looking for other funding sources to continue their service to the community.
“I'm writing a grant right now,” laughed Williams. “We have to keep pursuing options and it is it feels like a piecemeal system and trying to figure out where the funding is going to come from next. So, we'll pursue those options. At graduation today, we'll have some representatives from our behavioral health system come in for the graduation as well as law enforcement to again show that greater collaboration piece and to show that we're all in this together.”
Missoula city and county voters turned down the Crisis Services levy in the last election, so the funding for the program will end at the close of the fiscal year.