Last week, Iowa City Police Sgt. Andrew McKnight and Officer Colin Fowler presented at the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) International Conference. This year's conference was hosted in Phoenix, Ariz., from Aug. 16-18, 2021.
At the conference, McKnight and Fowler gave a presentation titled, "Culture & Mental Health: Eliciting the Big Picture During Crisis Intervention." Their presentation emphasized the importance of quickly developing trust when intervening with someone experiencing a crisis and doesn't share the same cultural background. A successful interaction can be achieved by communicating — both verbally and non-verbally — that you are knowledgeable and accepting of cultural differences.
Improving one’s cultural intelligence leads to the integration of knowledge and information about individuals and groups which helps to inform specific approaches and techniques. Culturally competent crisis response works to break down barriers that otherwise may impede communication and limit the effectiveness of the intervention.
Since 2016, McKnight - who serves on the board for NAMI Johnson County - and Fowler have delivered presentations to entities across Eastern Iowa, including the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Chatham Oaks and United Action for Youth. In 2019, they were invited to present at that year's CIT International Conference in Seattle, Wash.
About Crisis Intervention Training
The ICPD understands the value that Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) can bring to our community, and continues to play a role in sharing this knowledge with a larger audience.
CIT is vital in guiding law enforcement and other first responders on how to best respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and/or substance abuse issue. The goal of the training is to educate officers on how to recognize and respond appropriately when dealing with individuals in crisis, specifically providing training on de-escalation and the use of active listening techniques.
After initially sending Iowa City officers to San Antonio, Texas, to receive CIT in 2017, Johnson County law enforcement agencies and other community entities have partnered to offer this valuable week-long training in Johnson County throughout the year since.
The ICPD and other local law enforcement agencies have committed to providing CIT to 100 percent of their officers, with Sgt. McKnight and Officer Fowler serving as lead instructors.