Sheriff’s Office lieutenant completes training to become certified Crisis Intervention Team coordinator

Charles Kenniff is one of only 80 people worldwide to attain the certification

(From left) Capt. David Parisi, Lt. Charles Kenniff and Col. Kurt A. Hoffman. Contributed photo
(From left) Capt. David Parisi, Lt. Charles Kenniff and Col. Kurt A. Hoffman. Contributed photo

Lt. Charles Kenniff of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has become one of only 80 certified Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) coordinators worldwide, Sheriff Tom Knight announced this week.

CIT coordinators are trained through CIT International, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote community collaboration in an effort to assist people living with mental illness and/or addiction who are experiencing a crisis, a news release explains. The CIT coordinator acts as a liaison by maintaining partnerships with mental health care providers, individuals with mental illness and their families, and the community, the release points out. CIT coordinators also provide rigorous 40-hour training programs to law enforcement officers to teach them how to identify signs of mental illness while they interact with the public, the release notes. The Sheriff’s Office has 320 members trained in crisis intervention; 241 in law enforcement, 69 in corrections and 14 in communications, the release points out.

“Mental illness and addiction are two very real issues our deputies are confronted with,” said Knight in the release. “Having a certified crisis intervention expert on our team only enhances the level of service we are able to provide citizens.”

Kenniff joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1990; he is assigned to the Training Section, the release notes. In addition to serving as the CIT coordinator, Kenniff is a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) of Sarasota County, the release says.

On May 24, the Sarasota County commissioners will proclaim May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the release continues. The proclamation will take place shortly after 9 a.m. at the County Administration Center, located at 1660 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota. The meeting is open to the public.