Local law enforcement tours the Academy to get a firsthand experience of mental health recovery.
The Academy has participated in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Sarasota Police Department since we first opened our doors in 2017. This 40-hour comprehensive training for law enforcement includes a day of site visits to various mental health providers, including the Academy at Glengary.
It’s beneficial for law enforcement to meet those who have mental health challenges outside of crisis situations. Here at the Academy, they see that our members are bright and motivated people, creative artists and thinkers, warm and welcoming hosts with hearts for service, and so much more. We often say of our members that their mental illness is the least interesting thing about them. But unfortunately, it’s often the only side that law enforcement sees when responding to a mental health crisis call.
This past week, Academy member Paul Hennekes hosted our guests, provided them with a tour and introduced several members who shared their experiences of recovery. The officers stayed for lunch and were treated to an exceptional meal that was planned, created and served by our members. In this way, they experienced the whole individual; vibrant, complex, and accomplished people with whom they have more in common than not.
Conversely, it was an opportunity for our members to meet our local police in a relaxed and equitable environment without fear. An unfortunate consequence of officers responding to crisis is that members may associate the police with their worst days. And if those officers aren’t properly trained to recognize a mental health crisis, they may opt for the criminal justice system instead of referring to appropriate mental health treatment services.
Special thanks to ret. Lieutenant Charles Kenniff, for organizing the visit, and for being part of the solution to reducing incarceration among those with mental health concerns. When we simply take the time to get to know each other like this, the world becomes a much more peaceful and equitable place.