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The Laurel Highlands Region CIT Program.

In October of 2005, NAMI Cambria County held a forensics conference entitled "INJUSTICE FOR ALL" that focused on the mentally ill offender and surrounding issues that impact our communities.

Major Sam Cochran of the Memphis, TN Police Department was one of four guest speakers along with Dr. Xavier Amador, David Kaczynsji, (brother of Ted aka "The Unabomber") , and Ron Honberg ( NAMI National Policy and Legal Affairs Director).

Major Cochran spoke about the Memphis CIT Program and local interest grew from that.

NAMI approached the Chiefs of the three largest police departments in the area, the Cambria County MH/ID Program, the Department of Behavioral Medicine-Memorial Medical Center and Torrance State Hospital.

Representatives from NAMI and each of the entities made up the original 23-member stakeholder group that began seriously pursuing CIT for our area. At the very first stakeholder meeting it was agreed to send a delegation to Memphis for a two day visit to observe and learn about their program first-hand.

The delegates returned and reported back to the stakeholder group about a very positive experience, and it was decided from there on to pursue funding to continue on with the effort to develop a CIT Program locally.

Shortly after, then MH/ID Administrator, Cindy McLaughlin announced monies from the estate of the deceased Anna Morley Brandt would be set aside for the inception of the CIT program.

After continued planning meetings the stakeholders sent a 7-member team to participate in the 40-hour CIT training conducted by the Memphis, TN Police Training Academy and the University of Memphis under the direction of Major Sam Cochran and Dr. Randolph Dupont.

The group comprised of 3 representatives from law enforcement, 2 from mental health , and two from NAMI advocates, would return to develop the curriculum for the first local training here in the region.

The three law enforcement representatives returned as the first certified CIT officers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Oct 2006. The first local training produced 28 additional CIT Officers who became the first graduating class of the Laurel Highlands Region Police Crisis Intervention Team on April 20, 2007.

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In 2017 Behavioral Health Of Cambria County (BHoCC) applied for a grant to continue the funding  for the CIT program in 2019-2022. Healthchoices Reinvestment dollars were allocated to fund CIT Trainings for Law Enforcement and 911 Dispatchers.   

Early in 2022, CIT applied for a Grant through Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and received the award for 2022 -2024. The Grant was written by the
United Way of the Laurel Hig
hlands to assist our communities with resources to help those suffering with mental illness and to train First Responder to deal more effectively with a crisis. With the added funding, Laurel Highlands CIT Program is able to reach out to EMS and Fire personnel to do a four-hour mini-training, as first responders are sometime present prior to Law Enforcement's arrival. These skills will assist the first responder in an attempt to de-escalate the situation until the highly trained CIT Police Officer arrives.

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