After setting a goal of 25 percent – and not being sure it was reachable – the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is winning awards for reaching 100 percent of sworn officers completing training for the Crisis Intervention Team.
“It’s a reflectiong of a very strong initiative on our part,” Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said. “When I first came on the job we thought it was a reasonable expectation for his 25 percent. But they had never done it here before and we weren’t sure what kind of reluctance we would run into.”
Five years later, all sworn deputies and dispatchers have completed the CIT training. That was one of the main accomplishments cited when Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce named LSCO its First Responder of the Year Dec. 13 at its Stars Over Dulles awards dinner. Other programs cited were the decrease in opioid and heroin overdoses and fatalities and celebrating 30 years of D.A.R.E. education.
Chapman said the crisis intervention initiative was urged by his wife, who works in the mental health field. Chapman credited Sgt. Linda Cerniglia with helping push the initiative to the 100 percent mark.
“She really took the initiative, took ownership of it and pushed it forward,” Chapman said. “When we reached 25 percent, we decided from what we had seen why stop there. These were skills everyone should learn.”
Chapman said the training has been well received in the community and has led to tangible positive results.
“It’s another tool we can use to help de-escalate situations and to use communication without having to resort to the use of force,” he said. “We have been able to decrease the amount of tazer usages. We went from 36 times, to 17, to 11 and then down to four and down to two.”
While other agencies are seeing continued increases in drug overdoses, Loudoun County is bucking that trend.
“We formed the Heroin Operations Team Initiative and combined a myriad of stakeholders, from several levels of law enforcement to mental health providers to substance abuse folks,” Chapman said. “One of the things that is really saving lives is having NARCAN available to our deputies. We saved 10 lives last year and I think we saved even more than that this year.”
LCSO was also honored for community outreach programs like No-Shave November. By allowing deputies to skip shaving – as long as they kept well-trimmed beards or mustaches – the department and the community raised $13,500 for cancer research.
Other Loudoun County organizations honored with Stars Over Dulles Awards included:
HOSPITALITY LEADER: Sharon Meyers of Westfields Marriott in Chantilly.
SMALL BUSINESS LEADER: Jay Johnson, CEO of Five Minute Productions in Chantilly.
BUSINESS LEADER: Geoffrey Lawson, VP and GM of the National Conference Center in Leesburg.
ARTS LEADER: Laura Readyoff, owner of The Music Loft in Herndon and Ashburn.
NEW CHAMBER MEMBER: Sean Hunt of Mustang Sally Brewing Company in Chantilly.