The spark and drive behind CIT training
First proposed by Mona to then A-B Tech president Ray Bailey in 2006, CIT training is a 40-hour course that builds empathy and teaches de-escalation techniques. Its goals are to help those who commit offenses as the result of mental illness receive treatment instead of jail time and to keep them, family members, and law enforcement officers safe in potentially volatile situations.
Originally developed by the Memphis Police Department, the idea was far from universally accepted here. Some thought it a waste of time and resources. There were competing interests and issues to be resolved between city and county governments, law enforcement agencies, Mission Healthcare and other key partners. The process hit snags and there was further tragedy on July 13, 2006, when two Buncombe residents with Bipolar Disorder were shot and killed in separate incidents within hours of each other.
But Mona was resolute in her conviction that it was the right thing to do and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make CIT a reality. In April 2008, the first officers graduated from the CIT program at A-B Tech. Since then, more than 150 area law officers, EMTs, school resource officers and others have received the training.
Have lives been saved as the result? I like to think so. Even if not, the training has been incredible in the compassion and trust it has built in our community.