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​County Recognizes CIT Awards Recipients


Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a community-based pre-booking jail diversion program which provides specialized intervention training to law enforcement officers who respond to people in a serious mental health crisis. Originating from a model that began in 1988 in Memphis, Tennessee, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CIT program consists of three components: intensive training, strong mental health partnerships and significant mental health consumer and family involvement.

Each year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg CIT recognizes outstanding work and service to our community. Award recipients are nominated and selected by the CIT committee consisting of community members, mental health agency representatives and law enforcement leadership.  

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 CIT awards were presented in a drive-through ceremony on December 8, 2020.  Mecklenburg County congratulates the 2020 awards recipients:

Intervention of the Year: Officer Joseph Jeffery of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department for his efforts and actions to save the lives of community members actively attempting suicide and use of CIT skills to help those in crisis.

Intervention of the Year: Officer Taara McClendon of NCDPS Community Corrections for her actions while serving an individual on parole who saw no hope for himself or his future, helping him to find hope and attending to his basic needs.

Team Member of the Year: Carla Carlisle, tireless community advocate and teacher, sharing the impact of trauma on children and the benefits of good community support.

Team Member of the Year: Sergeant Ivan Reitz of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department for his constant support and advocacy of CIT work in the CMPD and service to consumers in crisis.

CIT Supporter of the Year: Hope Haven, Inc., for community-focused support for Charlotteans experiencing substance misuse, and their families, and for consistent support of CIT training through site visits that allow officers a unique opportunity to meet in small groups with consumers on the road to recovery. 

Instructor of the Year: Officer David "Russ" Faulkenberry and his therapy dog Yeti, of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, who together teach officers about homelessness in our Charlotte community and address the critical role of self-care and resiliency in the law enforcement profession.

Instructor of the Year: Chris Sherill of Cardinal Innovations, for sharing his life experience and recommendations for effective responses for individuals in crisis, and for his consistent effective participation and coaching in CIT role play trainings, a critical component of the CIT Training.

Leadership Award: Lieutenant Ericka Ojaniit of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, for effective leadership of the Community Policing Crisis Response Team and bringing the Safe Outcomes project to fruition at the CMPD. Consumers and families can now provide personal mental health information, helping officers better prepare for and respond to crisis 911 calls.  

CIT Officer of the Year: Officer Ryan Kowaleski of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, for consistent involvement in the CIT Program, for being an active member of the North Division community, including partnering to help children exposed to trauma, and families struggling with mental health needs.

Community Impact Award: Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, for opening a mental health pod for both male and female residents, to better address their mental health needs and teach skills necessary to improve functioning when transitioning back to our community. 

Community Impact Award:  NCDPS Community Corrections, for their re-entry and clinical services program serving individuals on probation with serious and persistent mental illness. The program partners CIT trained mental health officers with offenders to better navigate treatment, housing, and other barriers they may face while on parole.  


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