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STORRS — On October 12, Officer Maryhelen McCarthy of Newtown Police Department was awarded the Chief Michael J. Fallon Memorial CIT Officer of the Year award.
The award was presented to Ofc McCarthy at the Annual Statewide CIT Symposium, held at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The CIT symposium, which stands for crisis intervention teams, was sponsored by the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement, or CABLE.
CABLE is a grassroots, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) research and training collaborative whose mission is to serve as an interdisciplinary resource and catalyst for law enforcement and community collaboration, support and education. CABLE brings community and law enforcement resources together to address common issues related to mental health.
One of the services CABLE offers all officers in Connecticut is a 40-hour course to certify them as crisis intervention team officers. The CIT course trains officers in how to understand and properly deal with individuals suffering from a mental breakdown and/or illness. It additionally allows officers an insight into mental illness and gives officers a variety of tools and options in how to approach each individual and extends the officer’s abilities in finding that person services.
Ofc McCarthy was the first officer in Newtown to attend this training back in 2003. For the past 14 years she has been a Newtown Police Department leader in her efforts to assist those persons suffering from mental illness and for the elderly population.
She was nominated for the award by Captain Chris Vanghele, who said of her, “The mental health needs of our community are only increasing and Officer McCarthy meets those needs with empathy, dedication, and understanding. By her work she is ensuring that when those suffering from a mental issue see a police officer they no longer need to have fear, but can have hope because the officer is there to serve their needs.”
Approximately 40 percent of the officers in Newtown Police Department are now CIT trained.
The award is named in honor of the late Chief of the Capitol Police Michael Fallon, who was a leader in CIT training and use in Connecticut. Chief Fallon died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 47.
This year’s award was presented to Ofc McCarthy by Chief Fallon’s son Michael, who graduated from the police academy a year ago and is currently a Newington Police Officer.