VIDEO: State’s First Crisis Intervention Team Launched on Maui

January 22, 2013, 10:38 AM HST · Updated January 22, 11:39 AM
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Crisis Intervention Team graduation. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Twenty individuals on Maui graduated on Friday from a first-of-its-kind-in-the-state Crisis Intervention Team Program.

“For you to come out and volunteer for this, it’s indicative of your character and your commitment to represent the very best,” said Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta during the ceremony.  “You’re going to set the milestone for this department and the state because this is the very first.”

Crisis Intervention Team graduation. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Crisis Intervention Team graduation. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The team, consisting of three police sergeants, 15 Maui police officers, a supervising MPD emergency services dispatcher, and a police chaplain, spent the last week focusing on training that utilizes community partnerships to better respond to critical incidents involving individuals with mental illness.

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Officials with the Maui Police Department say the CIT will handle incidents involving the mentally ill and those in crisis with care and expertise, ensuring that such individuals receive a response which is appropriate to the needs of the person involved.

Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta addresses graduates during a ceremony recognizing members of the department’s new Crisis Intervention Team. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“These are people first, and they live with mental illness. They are consumers of mental health services, and they are our friends, and our family, and our neighbors,” explained Dr. Dara Rampersad, forensic coordinator of the Maui Community Health Center, who served as a trainer for the program.

“For us to develop the compassion that we’ve trained all week long in, and to have the fortitude to realize when we can assist someone with the ability to do so, is extremely important. I am really proud of each of you for putting it on the line this week and getting into some uncomfortable situations so that we could develop new muscle memory,” said Dr. Rampersad.

“I do want to reiterate that Crisis Intervention Team training is more than just training.  It is about community partnerships. A CIT officer utilizes the resources when available; and if people need resources, I want you to reach out to them,” he said.

Dr. Rampersad said the program was modeled after similar programs on the mainland. “What they have seen as a result of this program is it will reduce the number of injuries that officers sustain due to proper techniques and procedures used in dealing with persons with mental illness,” said Dr. Rampersad.

“In addition to that, we also get really outstanding outcomes from people who live with mental illness. They are afforded opportunities for treatment as opposed to incarceration. That operates as a pre-booking jail diversion process,” he said.

While the ceremony served as an inaugural launch of the program in the state, Dr. Rampersad said practices employed by the division have been in place for several years.  “We’ve been doing this for a few years now, we just didn’t have a name for it; and so it’s nice for us to have a name to associate ourselves with this practice that we have been utilizing, and will continue doing so, because we are making a difference in the lives of our community,” he said.

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