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Local sheriffs and police chiefs get $4.2 million from AG for training for crisis situations involving those with mental illnesses
** Breakdown of funds and programs by locality included.
Photos of localities receiving checks included **
- Money comes During Mental Health Awareness Week, comes from AG's Medicaid fraud settlement with Abbott Labs -
RICHMOND (October 9, 2013) - Today Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli held a news conference in Richmond with local sheriffs and police chiefs from around the commonwealth to present them with checks totaling $4.2 million for training to help law enforcement better respond to crisis situations involving individuals with mental illnesses.
Law enforcement, other first responders, and corrections personnel routinely interact with people with mental illnesses. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training provides tools to safely deal with those with mental illnesses and also helps those who are ill get proper care by helping first responders understand the circumstances surrounding mentally ill offenders.
Currently, more than 25 percent of the statewide jail population has been diagnosed with mental health issues and more than 12 percent were diagnosed with serious mental illnesses.
- increases public safety through better identification of, intervention with, and access to services for individuals with mental illness;
- reduces injuries to law enforcement when dealing with these citizens and helps them de-escalate potentially volatile situations; and
- teaches law enforcement where they can refer people for mental health services in lieu of incarceration, when appropriate.
"I learned how important this training was for law enforcement and for those with mental illnesses when I served as a court-appointed attorney in Virginia's involuntary civil commitment process. I worked first-hand with these types of folks and their families. Most need help, not jail time," said Cuccinelli.
The attorney general stressed that this money was coming from criminals, not the taxpayers. In 2012, Cuccinelli's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was the lead investigator in the second largest Medicaid fraud settlement in U.S. history. The $1.5 billion Abbott Laboratories fraud case resulted from the company's illegal marketing of its drug Depakote for uses not approved safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.
On top of the restitution to the state's Medicaid program, the office earned $115 million in asset forfeiture funds as lead investigator in the case. The attorney general said he wanted to share $105 million of those funds with state and local law enforcement. This $4.2 million is the first part of that commitment.
Click here for a list of individual localities' proposals for using the money and the amounts they received. Grant amounts for each locality were based on proposals submitted by the agencies.
Click here for photos of police and sheriffs' departments receiving checks today. The pictures are captioned with identification of the people in the shots. You are free to use the photos online, in print, or on air in articles related to this story. To download from Flickr, click on a thumbnail of a photo, then right click on the photo to bring up a menu. In the menu, click on a size you want to view, and a download link will appear.
The single largest grant was for $800,000 to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to provide training for localities that do not have their own CIT programs. DCJS is responsible for implementing programs and initiatives to improve the functioning and effectiveness of the commonwealth's criminal justice system.
Since 1997, when he was in private practice, Cuccinelli served as a court-appointed attorney for individuals with mental illnesses in Virginia's involuntary civil commitment process. After joining the Senate in 2002, he successfully sponsored legislation that provided for more humane treatment of the mentally ill.
In 2008, working in a bipartisan manner, he pushed through a bill to ease the process for involuntary commitment, to restrict gun ownership rights for those with mental illnesses, and to help break down barriers for sharing information between doctors and the court system.