New program to provide deputies with new tools for compassionate care

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 8:22 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 6:00 PM CDT
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CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) – A new program in Northeast Arkansas is making sure deputies in one county give its citizens the most compassionate care in specific cases.

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office announced the agency, in conjunction with Arisa Health, would form the Craighead County Crisis Response Team.

Carla Tilghman who is a metal therapist and is the CIT coordinator says this will train officers not just respond to call but be able to make a lasting impact.

“This will equip our officers better to deal with that crisis but we also have this corresponded that pairs myself and Gina together that says we can get these individuals immediate access to treatments,” Tilghman said.

Tilghman added this will hopefully break the mold of what most officers do when the respond to a person in need call.

“It is usually we get the call get, the call finished then you have to get going to the next call but CIT we say lets slow it down,” Tilghman said. “Lets slow it down and get to know these people get to know who they are what’s the situation why are you in crisis.”

A news release said the program is funded through a federal grant from the Department of Justice. It would be made up of one Crisis Intervention Team officer and one licensed mental health professional to respond to crisis calls related to people experiencing a mental health crisis. Other teams would follow.

“Our office will focus on de-escalating and calming down a situation when an individual with a mental illness is involved, discovering what triggered the crisis, connecting the individual with necessary resources, and following up with them on their progress or recovery,” the agency said.

The Craighead County Sheriff’s Office announced Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator Corporal Jeania Byrd would be the first member of the response team, with licensed professional counselor Carla Tilghman from Arisa Health also on board.

“We are pleased to bring this to Craighead County and its residents to make it a safe, better, and healthier place to live,” the news release said.