CIT Officers De-escalate Mental-health Crises, 24/7/365

EPISODE #46  February 14th, 2020

Guest: Sgt. Gary Robertson, Officer Chris Koester, Lisa Flamion, PLCP St. Louis County Police Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)

Your loved one is in crisis. It’s not a heart attack or stroke. It’s bizarre behavior, maybe a meltdown or aggression or mania or threats of harming themselves that is escalating by the minute. What triggered it? You can’t calm them down. You worry for their safety and even yours. But if you call 911, will it make the situation worse? You are desperate to do something, but you don’t know what to do.

Enter a CIT officer. Launched in St. Louis County in 2003-04, the national CIT – Crisis Intervention Team – training has equipped more than 5,200 St. Louis County officers in handling mental-health crises. And, of the 1,000 commissioned officers working in the department across eight precincts today, 550 of those officers are CIT-trained. And two of those officers specifically, Sgt. Gary Robertson and Officer Chris Koester, are leading the charge. Their role? To arrive on the scene and de-escalate the situation to create a safe space for people in a mental-health crisis. But their intervention doesn’t stop there. They also follow up with clients, both through regular conversations, as well as with the help of crisis counselor, Lisa Flamion, PLCP, by seeing clients face-to-face following a crisis to help them get the mental-health care they may need. In this week’s podcast with Executive Director Tom Duff, LCSW learn how CIT officers are playing a significant role, not only in breaking down stigma in our community but also in the ways that their compassion and understanding are making life better for people who struggle with mental-health issues.

If you or someone you love experiences a mental-health crisis, and you need immediate help, call 911 or the non-emergency line of St. Louis County Police or your municipality’s police department, describe the situation and ask for a CIT officer to assist. They will ensure that the officers who are trained to handle mental-health crises arrive on the scene.