By Wendy Osher
The Maui Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team added 20 new members to its list of trained personnel today with the graduation of a third class under the guidance of Dr. Dara Rampersad.
Maui’s Crisis Intervention Team was the first-of-its-kind in the state when it launched with an inaugural class last year, providing specialized training in mental health.
The team utilizes community partnerships to better respond to critical incidents involving individuals with mental illness.
The new class includes not only police officers, but a prosecutor, two firefighters, a sheriff’s deputy, a Maui Police Department dispatcher, and a security officer from the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
For the first time, the training also included outer island participants: Captain William Baldwin from the Honolulu Police Department, and Sergeant Reynold Kahalewai from the Big Island of Hawaiʻi (originally from Molokaʻi).
The complete list of today’s graduating class included the following members: William J. Baldwin, Jerry T. Barrera, Miroslav Bashev, Dale E. Corpuz, Michael J. Davlantis, Ryan M. Ehlers, Paulo Faleafine Jr., Everett K. Ferreira, Byron Fujieda, Modesto M. Jacinto Jr., Jayson P. Jones, Reynold H. Kahalewai, Ned L. Kanekoa, Brandon C. Phillips, Jan E. Pontanilla, John Sang, Evelyn K.N. Silva, Brianna M. Stice, Jason R. Thompson, and Ray K. Watanabe.
Dr. Rampersad, forensic coordinator of the Maui Community Health Center, who served as a trainer for the program, worked for five-and-a-half years to develop the model for the County of Maui.
He was honored with a commendation from Governor Neil Abercrombie who acknowledged Dr. Rampersad for his service as he embarks on a move to the mainland, and leaves the program in the hands of its members and supporting partners.
“Maui County has led the way with Dr. Dara here,” said Governor Abercrombie. “He has to leave now, but he has set up the protocols, the conditions, the personnel, the programmatic elements to be able to have this be a prototype, if you will, for other police departments… In other words, the application of crisis intervention is something that has pertinence to many departments, not just to the police department or fire departments certainly on Maui, but for statewide implications.”
Governor Abercrombie, who once served as a probation officer himself said, “Making a judgement in the moment is key, and the kind of training that the Crisis Intervention Team does and gives, makes all the difference in the world to be able to make that judgement in a responsible way.”
During his address to the graduates, Dr. Rampersad said the training hit home with a suicide reported last night at a group home the class had visited in one of its field trips.
“It just brings it closer to home, the seriousness of what you guys are embarking on; and it’s very important that you always take what you are doing very seriously. At the same time, you have a community to rely on, and team members that you’re going to be able to rely on come from a variety of agencies,” said Dr. Rampersad.
Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta also addressed the graduates. “Think of all the different agencies that are here–social services, health, prosecutors, law enforcement from all branches… Take a good look around because what you’re seeing is the survival of law enforcement; the survival of the criminal justice system; the survival of our community–cooperation, partnerships, friends,” said Chief Yabuta.
“Look at the friends we have in here. This is what makes us unique and this is what makes us special. This is our survival–being on an island, among other islands where there is no cavalry to come. Congratulations for being certified in crisis intervention,” said Chief Yabuta.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said the training is important in many ways. “In many of the tense situations that we have, where we don’t know what the cause is, we don’t know what the trouble really is; but yet we step into a situation, we’re going to have to calm that situation down to be able to analyze and get people to think their way through. This training is of utmost importance to do that,” said Mayor Arakawa.