CarePlus Brings First CIT Training to Bergen County

During the week of June 20th-24th, the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained 35 Law Enforcement and Mental Health Professionals at the Care Plus NJ, Inc. (CarePlus) headquarters during the Inaugural CIT training in Bergen County.

The CIT program is designed to unite community law enforcement, mental health and emergency response professionals when an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis. This is achieved through the use of de-escalation skills and scenario-based training. Benefits of the training include enhanced communication between resources, officer and citizen safety, and more efficient use of professional time as well as public money.

“This training has been something that many partners in Bergen County have hoped to bring to fruition,” Kristine Pendy, Senior Vice President at CarePlus, remarked. “We are grateful that it is finally here and that we are training law enforcement, security officers, NAMI and mental health providers throughout the county to work together in meeting the needs of our community”.

The Bergen County CIT Law Enforcement Coordinator is Lieutenant Michael Devine, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office. Amie Del Sordo is the Bergen County CIT Mental Health Coordinator, as well as the Director of the CarePlus Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program (PESP, 262-HELP) housed at Bergen Regional Medical Center. Del Sordo and Pendy were both CIT certified in November of 2015.

“I believe in the CIT program. I am excited to bring this opportunity to Bergen County,” Del Sordo began. “CIT trained professionals will help make a difference in the lives of those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Del Sordo attended the National Council for Behavioral Health several years ago and attended a presentation showcasing the CIT model. It was at that moment she decided CIT needed to be brought to Bergen County and started talking about this with Pendy.

“I had the support of my agency. I called Ed and the rest is history. He helped me understand who and what was needed to make this happen and I immediately started making phone calls and scheduling meetings,” Del Sordo explained. “Since I already had a great collaborative relationship with everyone who was needed, it was effortless to bring everyone together.”

Del Sordo began actively pursuing bringing the CIT training to Bergen County in August of 2015. With the assistance of Ed Dobleman, NJ State CIT Director, Del Sordo was able to bring the training to Bergen County in June 2016. A Bergen County CIT Steering Committee, comprised of Bergen County Law Enforcement & Mental Health Providers, has met monthly to coordinate this effort.

“It has been a pleasure working with Amie on this project.  She was committed to making this happen and saw it through until the end.  Bergen County is fortunate to have her as their Mental Health Coordinator,” Dobleman stated.

Bergen County had several staff presenting on their areas of expertise: Amie Del Sordo, PESP/262-HELP; Barbara Albracht, Crossroads to Wellness; Jessica Shea, Children Mobile Crisis Response and Stabilization Services; Christina Baluja, Transition Services; Valerie Holsinger, Early Intervention and Support Services; Officer Ronald Salzano, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office; AnnMarie Lazarus, NAMI Bergen NJ, Patrick Hughes, Bergen County Jail; Julia Orlando, Bergen County Housing Health and Human Services Center; and Thomas Rosamilia, Bergen Regional Medical Center.

The CIT course successfully trained 21 Law Enforcement Officers and 10 Mental Health Professionals at CarePlus this week, all of which work in Bergen County. The next training will be held the week of September 12th.

CarePlus has expressed appreciation to the various partners in this project, and sponsorship which allowed for the CarePlus Wellness Café to provide meals throughout the week of training.

Those who are interested in attending a future CIT training, or have any question about Bergen County CIT, can contact Amie Del Sordo at 201-262-7108.