Campus police receives crisis intervention award


Submitted Photo

Pictured from left to right are Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County Chairman William Nome; Kent State Police Officer Will Scritchfield, who is a 2013 Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year; Kent State Assistant Police Chief Dean Tondiglia; Major Dennis Missimi of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office; and Portage County Sheriff David Doak.

Nathan J. Havenner

The Kent State Crisis Intervention Team — a team of law enforcement officers trained specifically to handle situations involving mental health issues on campus — recently was awarded the 2014 Crisis Intervention Program of the Year Award.

“We have had individual officers awarded for their efforts in CIT, but as far as an organization goes it is a very big honor for us,” Officer Jeff Futo said. “It is a statewide recognition as well.”

Futo serves as coordinator of the campus CIT program, which was created in 2007. The original CIT program was first established in Tennessee, Futo said.

“The program was created by the Memphis Police Department,” he said. “They created a program so a police department can organize themselves and have a small team that are specifically trained within the department to deal with mental health issues.”

Kent State Police Chief John Peach accepted the award on behalf of the entire police force from Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Some Kent State students were not aware that Police Services has the CIT program.

Sophomore zoology major Janair Everette said she did not know campus police officers had this type of training to deal with mental illness. She said that despite not knowing about the CIT program, she would have still called campus police if she saw someone trying to hurt themselves.

“I would call the police to let them know,” Everette said.

Other students said they did know about Kent State’s program.

“I think it’s a good idea that they are looking out for everyone and taking care of what needs to be done,” said Austin Pierce sports and recreation management graduate student.

Campus police officers have been sent to Crisis Intervention Team training to make sure they know how to appropriately deal with a situation involving mental illness, Futo said.

“The training is provided by the Portage County Mental Health Board and sponsored by the police chiefs of Portage County,” Futo said. “Our officers were specifically trained to deal with various types of mental health issues that people have.”

Futo said the CIT officers are trained to deal with individuals with all types of mental illness.

“Our officers are specifically trained to deal with various types of mental health issues people have,” Futo said. “Everything from a person who might be psychotic with schizophrenia to a student who is dealing with depression.”

The CIT officers on campus not only identify the problem, deal with it and refer people to the proper resources, but they also follow up with them to make sure they continue to get the help they need, Futo said.

Futo said the CIT wants to provide help to those who need it so they can earn their degree and move on in life.

“We are a progressive department,” Futo said. “Chief Peach knows these things are important, so we go out and get them done.”

Contact Nathan Havenner at [email protected].