Contact: Trina Lambert
610 Campus Drive
Abingdon, VA 24210
ABINGDON, VA (June 6, 2019): On Thursday, June 13, 2019, Highlands Community Services (HCS) will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of their new Crisis Intervention Team Assessment Center which officially opens for business on June 17, 2019.
Crisis Intervention Team Assessment Centers are intended to provide a therapeutic location in which to serve individuals experiencing a behavioral health emergency. This location will be an alternative to a criminal arrest which is what may have occurred previously. In the Fall of 2018, HCS received an opportunity to apply for two Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) grants which would allow them to bring this type of program to the area. HCS was awarded both grants in January 2019.
“I am honored to have had the privilege to work with the dedicated staff at HCS who helped make this significant initiative possible,” says Jeff Fox, Executive Director Emeritus at HCS. “Not only did the staff work tirelessly to receive the funding; they have also managed to use it in a way that I firmly believe will set the standard for all other up-and-coming CIT Assessment Centers throughout the region and the State. I know this program will make a significant impact in our community by helping those that need our services the most.”
CIT programs are recognized as a best practice model for training first responders in recognizing, understanding and ultimately deescalating these types of emergencies. To learn these skills, local law enforcement officers will complete a 40-hour core training which will be held in conjunction with the Southwest Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy.
The CIT Assessment Center is a partnership between HCS, the Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s Office and Ballad Health. “We are proud to say that through this very important partnership, we have achieved our goal in a manner far above and beyond anything we could have originally imagined,” says Kandace Miller-Phillips, Director of Crisis Services at HCS. “Ultimately, this will be a very impactful resource to our local law enforcement agencies, consumers and the community. Serving those in crisis at the CIT Assessment Center will not only decrease the number of hours that individuals experiencing behavioral health emergencies are spending in the emergency room, but will also allow the officers who are involved in these types of emergencies to return to their communities and other job duties sooner.” A Memorandum of Agreement was signed by the Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s Office, Abingdon Police Department, Bristol Virginia Police Department, Bristol Virginia Sheriff’s Office, Damascus Police Department, Glade Spring Police Department, Virginia Highlands Community College Police Department, Emory & Henry Campus Police Department and the Virginia State Police to participate in the utilization of the CIT Assessment Center.
The CIT Assessment Center is located at 614 Campus Drive, Abingdon VA. The program will consist of five full-time employees – a CIT Coordinator, two CIT Pre-screeners and two CIT Deputies. It will be open seven days a week and staffed for approximately 10-13 hours daily.
Highlands Community Services is a multi-faceted Virginia Community Service Board providing mental health, substance use, and developmental services to the residents of Washington County and the City of Bristol, Virginia. Serving thousands of individuals each year, their goal is to provide a full continuum of care and to increase access to innovative mental health services by “improving lives and discovering possibilities along the way.” To learn more, please call 276.525.1550 or visit www.highlandscsb.org.