By Alexa Epitropoulos | [email protected]
The Alexandria Crisis Intervention Team honored nine of its members at a luncheon on Tuesday.
The team, developed in 2010 through a collaboration between the Alexandria Police Department, the Alexandria Sherriff’s Office and the city’s Department of Community & Health Services, was created to improve interactions with individuals suffering from mental illness and issues related to substance abuse. More than 500 first responders have been trained through the program since its founding, according to a news release from the city.
Those honored included a team of individuals involved in a case assisting an Alexandria resident in returning from Fairfax County to receive treatment after overdosing on heroin twice in two days. The team was named the “CIT Intervention of the Year.”
Those individuals – Michelle Albert, jail diversion team leader; Desha Hall-Winstead, director of ACJS pretrial and probation; Officer Rachel Shockey; Adam Willard, chief magistrate; Justin Wise, CIT coordinator and Lieutenant Ryan Morgan with the Fairfax Police Department – developed a plan for the woman to receive supervised release into the community, despite her facing felony drug charges. Since then, she has completed several short-term treatment programs and is living in supported housing while continuing to participate in treatment.
Three individuals received honors as well. Victor Purchase, a code inspector, was named “Code Inspector of the Year” for his work in engaging an isolated, mentally ill Alexandria resident who was not taking care of his property or himself. Purchase found the man’s family in order to assist him in getting treatment.
Deputy Terri Reed was named “CIT Deputy of the Year” for her work in assisting inmates with acute mental health needs. Reed took action to prevent harm to an inmate who told her he was hearing voices telling him to kill himself. She also calmed and got to know a woman who was having difficulty to adapting to being incarcerated after losing her husband.
Officer Jenifer Ashcroft was distinguished as “CIT Officer of the Year” for intervening with a suicidal juvenile. Using techniques learned from the program, she leaned the inmate had suffered sexual abuse that she hadn’t told anyone about. Ashcroft got the inmate psychiatrically evaluated and assisted in reporting the abuse.
Mayor Allison Silberberg, City Manager Mark Jinks, Police Chief Michael Brown, Sheriff Dana Lawhorne and Liz Wixson of the Department of Community and Human Services were present at the luncheon, which was held at Alexandria Police Headquarters at 3600 Wheeler Ave.