CHELMSFORD — The Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Pepperell, Tewksbury and Tyngsborough Police Departments report that officers from each of their departments, as well as Officers from the Lowell Police Department, received 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training from the Front Line Initiative.
A total of 35 officers from the seven participating departments completed 40 hours of intensive informational and practical training held at the Chelmsford Police Department over five days this month. Participating officers and supervisors were awarded graduation certificates from the Front Line Initiative Middlesex Crisis Intervention Team’s Training & Technical Assistance Center upon completing the course.
Crisis Intervention Team training provided by Front Line aims to provide law enforcement officers with the skills and knowledge necessary to respond to calls of individuals who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The CIT training focuses on mental health-related crises. Officers are exposed to experts in the field who provide in-depth training on a variety of topics related to mental health.
“The goal of the training is to improve the outcomes of encounters individuals experiencing crisis have with law enforcement,” said Executive Director Matthew Page-Shelton. “An additional focus of the training is to equip law enforcement with knowledge of the resources in the community with a goal of ensuring individuals have greater likelihood of receiving mental health services after an encounter with law enforcement.”
The training is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, which recognized the success of a pilot program that was conducted in 2021, and asked the Front Line Initiative to form the Middlesex Crisis Intervention Team’s Training & Technical Assistance Center. The purpose of the center is to provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies throughout Middlesex County. Program leaders intend to eventually offer CIT training to all police departments in the Commonwealth’s most populous county.
On Wednesday, officers took part in scenarios with members of the Front Line Middlesex County CIT program, who role-played individuals in crisis as officers worked to start and maintain constructive conversations to de-escalate the situations.
“As first responders, today’s police officers are on the front lines of our nation’s mental health crisis, and are often the first to arrive when individuals find themselves in crisis,” Chiefs Columbus, Spinney, Frost, Howe, Bartlett, and Scott said in a joint statement. “This training is critical for modern law enforcement officers, and we are all proud to be leaders in the effort to improve outcomes for those who face mental health challenges.”
“This program stands as a model for collaboration between law-enforcement and mental health professionals,” said Chief Howe. “This amazing program fulfills the need for co-response in situations where officers are dealing with people who have mental health and substance abuse challenges, and it has proven to be an invaluable resource.”
To access services provided by the Front Line Initiative, please call the Clinical Support Team at 978-215-9642. The service is accessible 24/7. In case of an emergency, please call 911.
To access a variety of behavioral health and substance use disorder resources compiled by the Front Line Initiative online in partnership with Credible Mind, click here.