Successfully resolving a mental health crisis can be challenging - for everyone involved.
My personal mission is to educate and train as many individuals as possible to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and to more effectively respond when an individual is in crisis. This mission resulted from my 30-year career in law enforcement, responding to hundreds of these types of calls, and successfully bringing them to a peaceful and productive conclusion.
I retired as a Lieutenant from the Orland Park, IL, Police Department in 2022. During my time with the Department, I worked in numerous roles, including: Investigator, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer, CIT Coordinator, SWAT officer, and Crisis Negotiator. Some career accomplishments include:
- Starting the Department's Crisis Intervention Team in 2015 and developing it to the point of national recognition
- Leading Department efforts to be the first agency, internationally, to complete the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) One Mind Campaign. This campaign focuses on uniting local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations through training, policies, and inter-agency agreements. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2017/10/mental-health-first-aid-orland-park/
- Implementing a mental health co-response program in Orland Park and five other municipalities, through a $744,000 federal grant.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cODxeOVyTZ8
- Being selected as CIT International’s 2021 CIT Coordinator of the Year
Responding to mental health calls for service and coordinating the Crisis Intervention Team efforts at my police department showed me the impact that a proper response to these types of calls can have.
This led me to become an Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board (ILETSB)-certified instructor in 2017 and train police officers, throughout the State of Illinois, in Mental Health Awareness and Response, and CIT training. I continue to do so to this day and it brings me immense satisfaction to help provide officers with tools that will help them do their job more effectively.
Police officers are not the only ones who need this information though. That is why I also became a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor in 2017. Since then, I have provided this instruction to people, organizations, and employers so that they, too, are equipped to better assist individuals who are, or may soon be, in crisis. It still amazes me how many people share their personal stories in almost every one of these classes. Their stories are part of what fuels my passion to continue teaching on this important topic.
In 2018, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with a committee of subject matter experts from throughout the United States, and rewrite the IACP model policy, and Concepts & Issues paper, entitled: “Responding to Persons Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis”. This provided me with opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to help update the model policy for police departments throughout the world to use as a reference when creating their own mental health response policies. (https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/Mental%20Health%20Crisis%20Response%20FULL%20-%2006292020.pdf)
My passion for this subject matter has led me to give presentations about what a successful CIT program looks like and how to build one, at over 30 conferences, conventions, and organization meetings throughout the United States. Some of these conferences include:
- CIT International conferences
- Illinois CIT conferences
- ICRA National Co-Responder conference
- Illinois Association of Problem-Solving Courts conference
- NAMI Illinois State conferences
Giving back to the community is also important to me. After retiring from law enforcement, I was honored to be elected to the Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), South Suburbs of Chicago Affiliate. In this role I volunteer my time to increase awareness of mental health issues and assist in providing education and support to the community.
My dedication to this critical and pervasive issue, combined with all of my training and experience, has helped me become an engaging instructor.
I believe that training classes for adults should not just be educational; they should be enjoyable. For that reason, all training classes are conducted in an energetic, interactive, and fun style to keep adult learners engaged. Curriculum is always developed and delivered, with the intention of providing students training that is relevant to them, and can be used as soon as they leave the class.
Mental illness touches almost everyone in the community, in one way or another – family members, friends, employers, co-workers, communities, and – yes – law enforcement.
It is my belief that a more informed community, working together, truly can make a difference. That is my motivation in conducting these training classes and collaborating with agencies and communities to develop a successful Crisis Intervention Team. I want to provide as many people as possible with training that will help them recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and more effectively respond to an individual in crisis.
Quality training can lead to better results.
Is your organization prepared?
If not, let’s get started today!