The balance between CIT skills and use of force

Crisis intervention training, known as CIT, for law enforcement officers is a 40 hour program with intensive participation in the proper handling of individuals suffering from a mental crisis.  The Winchester Police Department has 50 officers trained in CIT.  Through its identified vision statement, the Winchester Police Department is dedicated to becoming the most highly trained and effective law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is evident in an incident to which Winchester police officers responded on Saturday, October 11, 2020.  At 5:47 p.m., emergency dispatchers received a panic alarm from a cellphone app and learned that a male was asking for the police to respond, because he wanted to shoot them. As officers arrived on scene, they found the man outside in a housing complex parking lot with a pistol in his hand.  There were many obstacles and variables the officers were forced to consider as they approached the scene.  The location was near many single family and multi-family dwellings.   The officers safely took positions of cover while the male yelled at the officers.  A Winchester Police Sergeant, from a safe location, engaged the male in conversation and quickly convinced him to drop the weapon.  He continued to calmly talk and show concern for the male while giving him orders to be taken safely into custody. The ability to balance CIT skills and use of force is complex, with decisions often made in a matter of seconds.  The Winchester Police Department continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of their training in de-escalation, CIT, and use of force in incidents like this one.  They are to be commended for their efforts in the classroom and in the field.