This week, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) will hold its 4th Annual Virginia Crisis Intervention Team (VACIT) Conference in Hampton, Virginia. Over 350 people, including first responders such as police, sheriff, fire, and mental health as well as other community stakeholders such as hospital staff, mental health peers or consumers, mental health advocates, and others are scheduled to attend.
“One of the worst things that can happen to an individual who is struggling with a serious mental health or developmental/intellectual disability issue is to end up unnecessarily in our criminal justice system. Jail is a poor place for treatment when someone is severely ill," said Dr. Jack Barber, Interim DBHDS Commissioner. “Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Programs help law enforcement and other first responders recognize mental illness and link them to services rather than arrest whenever it is possible to do so.”
Every year, the VACIT Conference aims to provide opportunities to learn about innovative ways to improve CIT programs across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The event provides training for well-established CIT programs in addition to new and emerging programs. It also affords networking opportunities in addition to the plenary sessions that will allow CIT members to transform their programs using innovative concepts garnered from their colleagues and nationally recognized experts. There is also an emphasis on learning techniques to assist with identified populations as well as to improve self care.
The conference audience is Virginia’s CIT trained first responders and community stakeholders. CIT first responders are typically from police, sheriff, fire, and mental health agencies. The audience may also include hospital staff, mental health peers or consumers, mental health advocates, and other community stakeholders.
The Virginia Crisis Intervention Team (VACIT) Coalition is a collaborative membership group that supports the implementation and ongoing success of CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) programs in Virginia. Members include individuals interested in learning about or supporting CIT initiatives as well as representatives from CIT programs throughout Virginia. Regardless of whether a program is in its initial stages of development, still working to implement various aspects of the CIT program or a fully operational CIT, we share ideas, resources and information all for the betterment of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Additional information about the VACIT may be found on our website
CIT is a collaborative effort between police, sheriff, fire, and mental health to prevent inappropriate incarceration as a result of nuisance crimes or other minor offences for people during a mental health crisis. It also teaches techniques to increase the safety of the individual experiencing the crisis, law enforcements and the public. CIT teaches first responders effective communication skills to ensure that our citizens are getting the right care at the right time.