Deputies indicted in Otieno’s death completed crisis intervention training
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As conversations continue about transforming the mental health system in the Commonwealth of Virginia, records show the sheriff’s deputies indicted in the death of Irvo Otieno completed 40 hours or more of crisis intervention team training.
According to Henrico County, “Henrico County’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) was established in 2008, and is a community partnership between first responders, mental health and substance abuse systems, mental health advocacy groups and consumers of mental health services. Selected responders from the Henrico County Police and Fire Divisions, Henrico County Sheriff’s Office and Henrico Area Mental Health and Developmental Services work with consumers and family members to facilitate effective assistance for persons experiencing a mental health crisis. Connection with community resources is offered, whenever possible, thus avoiding unnecessary incarcerations or hospitalizations.”
The goals of Crisis Intervention Teams across the Commonwealth include:
- Providing immediate response by specially trained law-enforcement officers;
- Reducing the amount of time officers spend out of service awaiting assessment and disposition;
- Affording persons with mental illness, substance abuse problems, or both, a sense of dignity in crisis situations;
- Reducing the likelihood of physical confrontation;
- Decreasing arrests and use of force;
- Identifying underserved populations with mental illness, substance abuse problems, or both, and linking them to appropriate care;
- Providing support and assistance for mental health treatment professionals;
- Decreasing the use of arrest and detention of persons experiencing mental health and/or substance abuse crises by providing better access to timely treatment;
- Providing a therapeutic location or protocol for officers to bring individuals in crisis for assessment that is not a law-enforcement or jail facility;
- Increasing public recognition and appreciation for the mental health needs of a community;
- Decreasing injuries to law-enforcement officers during crisis events.
- Reducing inappropriate arrests of individuals with mental illness in crisis situations.
- Decreasing the need for mental health treatment in jail.
The training consists of 40 hours of education over five days and includes site visits and role-play exercises.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, the On Your Side Investigators obtained the names and completed training hours for Henrico County sheriff’s deputies employees from January 2022 to present.
Records show the seven deputies indicted with second-degree murder in the death of Otieno completed the required 40 hours of CIT training. Five of the deputies have gone through either a 4-hour or 8-hour refresher course, according to the records. Brandon Rodgers is the most recently trained, completing CIT training on May 27, 2022.
In addition to the refresher hours, Dwayne Bramble, Jermaine Branch and Tabitha LeVere have completed more than 60 hours of training by going through CIT “train the trainer training” or TTT.
TTT is 20 additional hours of training to prepare deputies to provide the 40-hour CIT training to their team members.
Henrico County says community stakeholders are an important part of CIT. Key stakeholders include the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Central Virginia Chapter (NAMI-CVA), Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership (VOCAL), Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance (SAARA), the University of Richmond Police Department, Henrico Doctor’s Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, and other area organizations.
In a statement Tuesday, Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said the organization is “outraged” by the death of Otieno.
“NAMI is outraged by the death of Irvo Otieno – an artist, a son, a human being. And we are heartbroken by the details coming out publicly about his death. People with mental illness are human beings – and each of us deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Tragically, whether we hear about it or not, the mistreatment of people with mental illness happens every day. It happens in the places we are all taught to trust, like our hospitals. As a nation, we must address the systemic challenges that repeatedly fail people with mental illness and their families, leaving far too many without hope. We cannot continue to allow any family to go through what Mr. Otieno’s family is going through. We need a compassionate and caring system that supports everyone affected by a mental health condition.”
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