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Apopka Police Department

Apopka police officers named Crisis Intervention Team Officers of the Year for 2020 and 2021

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, the lack of mental health crisis services across the United States has resulted in law enforcement officers serving as first responders to most crises. A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is an innovative, community-based approach to improving the outcomes of these encounters.

In over 2,700 communities nationwide, CIT programs create connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services, and individuals with mental illness and their families. Through collaborative community partnerships and intensive training, CIT improves communication, identifies mental health resources for those in crisis, and ensures officer and community safety.

APD Corporal Aaron Gerardi
APD Corporal Aaron Gerardi

Last week, the Apopka Police Department recognized Corporal Aaron Gerardi as CIT Officer of the Year for 2020 and Officer Cynthia Calixto as the CIT Officer of the Year for 2021.
 
According to a statement from the APD, Gerardi has been an active supporter of the Crisis Intervention Team philosophy since becoming an officer.
 
"He exhibits a true desire to assist people experiencing mental health crises or substance use disorders. Corporal Gerardi makes every attempt to de-escalate situations and get the necessary services in place. He strives to establish trust between the mentally ill and police officers which can be crucial in determining the outcome of crisis situations."
 
APD Officer Cynthia Calixto
APD Officer Cynthia Calixto
 
Calixto has responded to a variety of CIT calls including individuals suffering from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders as well as substance abuse.
 
"She handled cases involving suicidal, delusional, and non-med compliant adults and juveniles. She handled juvenile overdoses, juvenile defiance disorders, juveniles who had run away from home, and juveniles cutting themselves. Officer Calixto handles each case with compassion and professionalism while ensuring individuals receive the necessary assistance."
 

The Benefits Of CIT

According to the NAMI website, not only can CIT programs bring community leaders together, they can also help keep people with mental illness out of jail and in treatment, on the road to recovery. That’s because diversion programs like CIT reduce arrests of people with mental illness while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that individuals will receive mental health services. CIT programs also:

NAMI promotes the expansion of CIT programs nationwide by providing NAMI Affiliates and State Organizations, local law enforcement, mental health providers, and other community leaders with information and support about CIT implementation. NAMI also works with local and national leaders to establish standards and promote innovation in CIT.

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