AccessCNY Trains First Responders to Improve Encounters with those in Mental Health Crisis

Photo Caption (from left to right): Officers from the Town of Manlius, Village of Baldwinsville and City of Syracuse at a CIT Advisory Committee meeting earlier this year.


AccessCNY recently hosted its inaugural Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training law enforcement officials and first responders. The week-long class works with officers on how to best de-escalate an encounter with someone in a mental health crisis.

Started earlier this year, CIT is a collaboration between AccessCNY and the Central New York Care Collaborative. CIT training uses evidence based approaches to foster better relationships between those with a mental health diagnosis or disability and law enforcement officials. The goal of CIT is to inform first responders about community based resources in order to keep those in crisis out of the justice system or emergency room and reduce the potential of injury.

Captain John Cooney, is retired from the City of Troy Police Department and is the Law Enforcement Coordinator of AccessCNY’s CIT program. “The Crisis Intervention Team Training will supply our officers with an additional tool on their belt. De-escalation skills lead to less use of force, thus reducing the potential for officer and citizen injury. This program will bring community resources, mental health professionals and our sworn protectors together on a mission to improve the lives of those with a mental health diagnosis. By bringing this training to six counties across Central New York we will blanket the region with compassionate, efficient and empathetic response and follow up.” Cooney also serves as the primary police Mental Health Trainer for New York and has worked extensively in crisis management and hostage negotiations.

In addition to the week-long intensive training, a truncated series is offered to make the training more accessible to more officers. As part of CIT AccessCNY also convenes a monthly advisory committee. The committee consists of representatives of local police and the Justice Center, local emergency providers, family members, individuals with mental health disorders and other community partners. The advisory committee discusses community relations and issues regarding mental health disorders, training needs and feedback regarding services and interactions from first responders.

“AccessCNY is pleased to bring Crisis Intervention Training to Central New York, through a partnership with the Central New York Care Collaborative,” said Paul Joslyn, Executive Director of AccessCNY. “Every mental health crisis looks different and by equipping our dedicated first responders with alternatives to the justice system and emergency mental health care our entire community benefits. CIT will lead to more cost-effective care, but most importantly more compassionate care for those who are struggling.”

AccessCNY plans to train 500 law enforcement officers and first responders over the course of two years. The next week-long CIT Training will be offered later this month.


About AccessCNY: AccessCNY serves over 3,000 people with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health diagnoses and/or acquired brain injuries each year by offering services that empower individuals to create and achieve their own success. In January 2015 AccessCNY was created from the merger of two agencies that served individuals with disabilities: Enable and Transitional Living Services. In 2018 AccessCNY expanded again with the merger of Spaulding Support Services. For more information about AccessCNY, please call (315) 455-7591 or visit:

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