The Owensboro Police Department wants to recognize the achievements bestowed on two of its members by the Crisis Intervention Team organization. Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, is a program designed to enhance the response to those suffering from mental illness. The program teaches the necessary skills needed to keep the officer and the consumer safe during interactions, and to make certain that those in crisis receive the appropriate care.
CIT was started in 2001 in Louisville, Kentucky, and in 2007 it was made available to all law enforcement agencies across the state through a grant from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. That’s when the Owensboro Police Department began implementing this training, and we strive to train 100% of our officers with the CIT program. Held annually is the CIT conference, during which awards are given to officers who have demonstrated the CIT skills by assisting someone with a mental illness. This year’s event was held on June 1-2, 2015 at the Ramada Plaza, Louisville, KY.
Sgt. Steve Wechtenhiser received the River Valley Behavioral Health seven county region award for CIT Officer of the Year for his actions during a call for service in January, 2014. Sgt. Wechtenhiser responded to the scene of a felony traffic stop as the shift supervisor. The subject of that stop had placed a gun to his head and was refusing to exit the vehicle. Sgt. Wechtenhiser spoke with the subject for a short period of time through an open door window. The subject eventually placed the gun down and followed orders without any further incident.
Also recognized this year with a new CIT award, was Lt. Chris Castlen. The Award of Excellence is for a CIT officer who goes above and beyond to further the mission of CIT. Lt. Castlen has been the mental health contact for the Owensboro Police Department for several years. He has made himself available 24/7 for any issues that would arise during an OPD response to those in need concerning mental health. Lt. Castlen has also volunteered to serve on River Valley Health’s Human Rights Committee, and has been the lead CIT instructor for all CIT classes held in Owensboro since 2010.