Columbus, OH – Robert Kasprzak, CIT Coordinator for Lucas County and member of the staff at the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County, received the 2015 “Evelyn Lundberg Stratton” Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Champion of the Year Award.
The award was presented by Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday, April 24th at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio’s Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. CIT is a specialized training program in which law enforcement officers are educated about mental illness and substance abuse and learn skills to deescalate certain individuals in crisis situations.
“This award is our way of publicly expressing our appreciation to Robert for serving as a role model for mental health and law enforcement professionals around Ohio. His commitment to helping those in his community with mental illness has a profound impact not only on those individuals, but on their loved ones and the members of the community at large,” said Terry Russell, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI Ohio).
According to Robin Eisenberg, Executive Director of NAMI Greater Toledo, who nominated Robert, “He is truly passionate about improving Lucas County CIT and has moved it from training to a full-fledged program. He actively promotes CIT throughout the county with the recovery community, family members, professionals, the Boards of Developmental Disabilities and Children Services and others to the point that it is a well-established and recognized program in our community.”
“Robert’s approach to CIT is exactly what was envisioned by the founders of Crisis Intervention Teams in Memphis twenty years ago,” said Mark Munetz, Director of the Ohio Criminal Justice Center of Coordinating Excellence.
The first CIT program began in Memphis, Tennessee in 1988, in response to the shooting death a year earlier of a 27-year-old man with mental illness in an incident with the Memphis Police Department. This shooting outraged the community and from this community crisis emerged a new way of doing business for both the police and mental health community.
“Today, law enforcement, mental health professionals and advocates are collaborating in communities throughout Ohio to provide training to help police officers identify and respond to calls involving someone experiencing a mental health crisis,” Munetz said.