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Kent State Police Officer Receives CIT Officer of the Year Award

Posted Oct. 4, 2010

Kent State University Police Officer Jeff Futo received the 2010 Campus Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer of the Year Award. The award was presented by Attorney General Richard Cordray last month at CIT Advanced Training Conference in Columbus, Ohio. CIT is a specialized training program in which law enforcement officers are educated about mental illness and substance abuse and learn skills to de-escalate certain individuals in crisis situations.

Photo of Jeffrey Futo“This award is our way of publicly expressing our appreciation to Officer Futo for serving as a role model for CIT officers around Ohio,” said Terry Russell, interim executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI Ohio). “His commitment to helping those in his community with mental illness has a profound impact not only on those individuals, but on their loved ones and the members of the community at large.”

According to Dean Tondiglia, assistant chief of police at Kent State University Police Services, “Through his cool and calm demeanor, Officer Futo immediately sets the appropriate tone for dealing with people in crisis. His sense of humor enables him to defuse and de-escalate situations to resolve problems in a safe and humane manner. Many times, Officer Futo will stop by and see how someone is doing after an incident. He has found that people are both grateful and surprised that he cares enough to check up on them after the initial crisis is over. He believes that this follow-up with people may be one of the most important components of a true CIT program.”

“Officer Futo’s approach to CIT is exactly what was envisioned by the founders of Crisis Intervention Teams in Memphis 20 years ago,” said Mark Munetz, director of the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence.

The first CIT program began in Memphis, Tenn., in 1988 in response to the shooting death a year earlier of a 27-year-old man with mental illness in an incident with the Memphis Police Department. This shooting outraged the community, and from this community crisis emerged a new way of doing business for both the police and mental health community. 

“Today, law enforcement, mental health professionals and advocates are collaborating in communities throughout Ohio to provide training to help police officers identify and respond to calls involving someone experiencing a mental health crisis,” Munetz said. 

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Media Contacts:
Betsy Johnson, betsy@amiohio.org, 614-224-2700
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595