Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid (center) attended the Aug. 17 Ad Hoc police policies review commission and joined the conversation regarding mental health and Crisis Intervention Team training.
Photo by Tim Peterson.
What is the CSB?
The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board is the public agency that provides services for people who have mental illness, substance use disorders, and/or intellectual disability. The CSB also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services.
By Ken Moore
About half of the inmates in the Fairfax County Jail have a mental health illness or substance abuse disorders. The Mental Health and Crisis Intervention Team subcommittee of the Fairfax County Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission included this information from County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid in the introduction to its list of policy change recommendations to the full commission on Aug. 17.
The subcommittee compiled 26 recommendations, grouped into five different sets: items for the Fairfax County Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office and Community Services Board, the Judiciary and Mental Health Dockets, more thorough implementation of the Virginia Crisis Intervention Team Essential Elements and increased community and county involvement in mental health awareness.
Del. Marcus Simon (D-53) is a commission member and chair of the Mental Health and Crisis Intervention Team subcommittee. He said one of the overarching goals of the recommendations is to “create a situation where it’s really easy for Crisis Intervention Team officers to start doing their jobs.
“We want to make sure folks who don’t belong in jail don’t end up there in the first place,” Simon added.
CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM training for law enforcement officers helps them to “recognize, evaluate and de-escalate encounters with individuals in mental distress,” the subcommittee’s report says.
Subcommittee members researched “The Memphis Model” for Crisis Intervention Team training, as established in Memphis City after the fatal shooting of a man with mental illness by a city police officer. “In the City of Memphis,” the subcommittee report reads, “the change in approach has resulted in an attitudinal shift within the police department as it relates to all their encounters with the community, a shift from military/aggressive or warrior mentality to a community/service or guardian one.”
Members of the subcommittee and Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid visited Bexar County, Texas, said to be a current example of the Memphis Model in practice. The county adopted the model eight years ago, Simon explained from the report, and has since seen savings of $5 million a year in jail costs from diverting more than 4,000 individuals with mental health problems away from the jail, as well as significantly reducing the number of use of force incidents inside the jail.
Recommendations 8 through 18 deal specifically with the Sheriff’s Office and Community Services Board, including reorganizing the Board to expand its capacity, as well as expanding the Mobile Crisis Unit program — an emergency on-scene service offering treatment, evaluation and crisis intervention.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS chairman Sharon Bulova commented that the supervisors were already including funding for the mobile crisis unit in the budget carryover package. “The Board of Supervisors is very sensitive to the issues being discussed,” she said, “and not waiting for October for those recommendations.
“It’s really going to make a sea change,” Bulova added.
Simon reminded Bulova he plans to be a “bird dog” when it comes to following up on the recommendations of the subcommittee and full commission.
“To have all this information sitting on shelves would be a shame,” he said. “Now we’ve got a roadmap to solve a lot of these problems.”
Who to Call for Help
In emergency situations (24/7)
- CSB Emergency Services, 703-573-5679, TTY 711
- Fairfax Detoxification Center, 703-502-7000, TTY 703-322-9080
- CrisisLink suicide hotline, 703-527-4077
- CrisisLink suicide text hotline, 703-940-0888
- Call 911 for a life-threatening emergency
During business hours:
- CSB Entry & Referral Services, 703-383-8500, TTY 711
- Infant & Toddler Connection, 703-246-7121, TTY 703-324-4495
For basic needs: food, housing, medical care, etc., 703-222-0880, TTY 711
Staff at all of the numbers listed above can take calls in English and Spanish and can access other languages when needed.