Pittsfield, MA – March 13, 2013 – Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe actors will share the stage this month with police from across Western Massachusetts for a unique training exercise aimed at preparing law enforcers to effectively deal with situations involving people with mental illness. The actors will play the role of an emotionally disturbed person and police will employ techniques learned during a weeklong Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).
“The Crisis Intervention Training program showcases an innovative partnership between Berkshire County’s artists and law enforcement officers,” says State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield). “Its success is based on people from various fields and professional backgrounds coming together to promote pubic safety, tolerance and understanding.”
This is the fourth year NAMI of Berkshire County has offered CIT training. A Williams College survey of officers who took the training in 2011 reveals a marked increase in the officers’ confidence in handling calls involving people with mental illness.
“I’ve heard from colleagues in my district who have attended previous CIT sessions how beneficial this training has been in their day to day jobs,” says Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D- Lenox). “ I applaud NAMI for hosting this forum to assist our local law enforcement officials in managing the challenges facing Berkshire County’s mental health recovery community.”
The unscripted nature of the actor and police improvisations reflects what police encounter on the streets from potential suicides to someone disturbing the peace to a public safety threat.
“The actors’ reactions are immediate and quick,” says Marilyn Moran, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Berkshire County. “The improvisation mimics the real life situations police officers everywhere face every day. It’s an invaluable part of our CIT training which gives police tools to de-escalate these situations and to keep everyone safe.”
The media is invited to cover CIT training involving actors and police Friday, March 22 at 10 am on the Main Campus of Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield.
Advance interviews can also be arranged with actors, law enforcement, legislators and mental health advocates.
About NAMI of Berkshire County: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nonprofit support, education and advocacy organization of families and friends of people with mental illness. NAMIBC is dedicated to eradicating the stigma of mental illness and to improving the quality of life for everyone impacted by mental illness in and around Berkshire County, Massachusetts.