Crisis Intervention Team Honored Exceptional Service and Celebrated Award Winners

2023 Crisis Intervention Team award winners

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) recognized the outstanding work of first responders with people experiencing a mental health crisis. Each award recipient represents critical and impactful service, and each organization represents an invaluable contribution to our community. 

CIT honored this exceptional work at its Annual Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Valerie C. Woodard Center.

2023 Award Recipients:

Intervention of the Year: Christopher Duryee (Matthews PD) 

CIT Supporter of the Year: KinderMourn

 Judy Reiner Advocate of the Year: Benjamin Seeley  

Instructor of the Year: Bryan Adams (MCSO)  

Leadership Award: Miguel Jaco-Vargas (CMPD), Rhonda Walton (Department of Adult Corrections)

CIT Officer of the Year: Gary Ritter (CMPD)

Veteran CIT Officers of the Year: Jared Gardner (CMPD), Hunter Robbins (CMPD) 

CDCP Officer of the Year: Jason Humphreys (CMPD), Stephan Holmes (CMPD) 

CIT First Responder Award: Drew Lazarus (Charlotte Fire Department)  

Telecommunicator of the Year: Jennifer Cisneros (CMPD) 

Community Impact Award: Daniel Johnson (MCSO) 

CIT Officer of the Year: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Officer Gary Ritter is CIT’s Officer of the Year. Officer Ritter has served the homeless population in the Hickory Grove area and continually applies the CIT methods to assist those who need help. He has also partnered with community agencies and businesses to meet the safety needs of the community while serving residents experiencing a mental health crisis. He volunteers his time to assist with CIT instruction to make a greater impact on the community we serve.

Community Impact Award: CIT honored Major Daniel Johnson, of the Mecklenburg County Sherriff’s Office, for his 15 years of service to CIT with the prestigious Community Impact Award. Major Johnson was integral to the successful start of the CIT program in Mecklenburg County 15 years ago, and has remained a faithful servant, change agent, and advocate for the CIT program, local law enforcement, and our community.

Keynote Speaker: Chief Blair Myhand, Hendersonville Police Department. Chief Myhand was the driving force behind the creation of CIT for Veterans Programming across the state of North Carolina. He will speak about this important addition to CIT Programs. 

Additional Info:

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a community collaboration between law enforcement, mental health agencies, consumers and their family members, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Charlotte, and Central Piedmont Community College. CIT was developed for Law Enforcement Officers who are frequently first responders for persons in crisis with a serious mental illness. 

Three Components of CIT Programs:

  • Intensive training  – Police officers and other first responders receive up to 40 hours of training regarding mental illness, co-occurring disorders, and response strategies.

  • Strong mental health partnerships  – Police and mobile crisis workers who respond to people in crisis seek viable options for linking individuals with mental health treatment in lieu of arrest.

  • Significant mental health consumer and family involvement  – Consumer and family advocates are integrally involved in the design and implementation of local CIT programs.

Child Development Community Policing (CDCP) has served as a model for law enforcement-mental health partnerships across the country, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg is proud to have one of the oldest and largest programs of this kind in the nation.

The goals of the CDCP program are to:

  • Facilitate immediate officer awareness and identification of children exposed to violence and other trauma, and

  • Increase expert clinical assessment and swift coordinated services for all impacted children and families.