NORTH MIDDLESEX — Fourteen law enforcement officers from the Nashoba Valley recently participated in Crisis Intervention Team Training at the Littleton Police Department.
Officer Dan Adams and Detective John Coburn completed the training for the Pepperell Police Department, while Officer Michael Marchand completing the training for Townsend.
Five officers from Westford completed the training including Michael Barck, Anthony Bernadin, Matt Bunyon, John Lincoln and David O’Hearn.
Three officers from Ayer Police participated as well, including Det. Kellie Bahright, SRO Jennifer Bigelow and Sgt. Eric Pearson.
The Littleton Police Department had Det. Pablo Fernandez and Officer Megan Wodzinski complete the training, while Ashby Police had Officer Brian Vautour.
The training process was 40 hours with officers learning how to better handle calls involving individuals who have mental health conditions and/or substance misuse disorders and who may be in crisis. The goal of CIT training is to provide better outcomes for these crisis calls.
“Calls involving substance misuse or mental health are among the most challenging that our officers will respond to,” Townsend Police Chief James Sartell said. “By completing this training, Officer Marchand will be better equipped to respond to such calls. And he will bring these lessons and strategies back to the department, helping us work toward more positive results.”
Pepperell Police Chief David Scott expressed a similar sentiment and said better training can protect all parties involved in a crisis situation.
“The Pepperell Police Department has been a regional leader in providing assistance to individuals suffering from mental health and substance misuse disorders,” Scott said. “As the lead agency in our 10-town Community Outreach Initiative Network, and the development of local CIT training, we fully understand the importance of handling these calls in a way that addresses the needs of those in crisis while protecting the safety of all involved.”
Training was held at the Littleton Police Department and is sponsored by the Northwest Middlesex County Community Outreach Initiative Network program.
The training was made possible through a technical assistance grant funded by the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center, a program of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“The assistance from CRI-TAC that introduced us to trainers Michelle Saunders and Sam Cochran was invaluable in getting this program up and running,” Scott said. “We are so pleased that they assisted us and now continue to assist us with a train-the-trainer class, so that COIN may continue to provide these classes locally to our member departments.”
“The goal is to continue these trainings so that we can train as many officers as possible,” Scott said.
The Northwest Middlesex County COIN program is a collaboration among 10 area police departments. Ashby, Ayer, Boxborough, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford.
Together, the organizations say they are committed to addressing mental health issues and substance abuse disorders in their communities. Through its partnership with Family Continuity, a local mental health provider, COIN has brought in a mental health clinician to assist the departments with finding help for their residents in need and diverting them from the criminal justice system.
More information on CIT can be found here: https://www.citinternational.org/Learn-About-CIT
Anyone who is struggling with mental health issues or substance misuse issues – or knows somebody who is – should call COIN at 508-488-5072. Someone will call back within one business day.