A University of Central Florida police officer has been honored as Central Florida’s best in crisis intervention.

Orange County has named Corporal Adam Casebolt as Central Florida’s CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer of the Year 2010.

He was honored for using his CIT and CPR skills to save the life of a man in mental distress last fall. In addition, the UCF Police Department was honored as Central Florida’s CIT Police Department of the Year for 2010. The department requires all of its officers to become CIT certified.

Crisis intervention refers to how officers respond to someone experiencing mental distress.

Last fall, Casebolt and two other UCF police officers were called to a scene involving a man in mental distress who also appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. Using their CIT training, they calmed the man, who resisted them at first but eventually agreed to be taken to a mental health facility.

During the car ride, the man displayed manic and depressed behaviors and banged his head against the window. Casebolt talked with him to calm him down. As they arrived at the facility, the man slumped over in the seat as if he had fallen asleep. Casebolt realized that the man had no pulse, so he performed CPR and saved his life.

“Someone in the midst of a mental health crisis can become a danger to themselves or others,” said UCF Police Chief Richard Beary. “CIT training prepares our officers to recognize someone in mental distress and to intervene effectively and compassionately.”

The onset of mental health issues often occurs between age 18 and 24, which is the typical age range of UCF students.

Certification involves 40 hours of training courses at Lakeside Behavioral Healthcare in Orlando. The training builds the police officers’ confidence in their situation assessment skills, reinforces their skills in recognizing and de-escalating suicidal and violent situations and trains them in how best to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Our ultimate goals are to reduce the potential for violent encounters and incarceration and to connect people in need of professional help with appropriate community resources,” Chief Beary said.

Casebolt began working at the UCF Police Department in 2001 as a dispatcher. He became a police officer in 2003 and was promoted to his current position of patrol supervisor in 2006. He earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice at UCF. Casebolt has been CIT certified since 2004. He is also a CPR instructor.

The Crisis Intervention Team training program was established in 1988 in Memphis, Tenn. All 11 police agencies in Orange County, as well as Orange County Corrections and the county’s Lynx transportation system, participate. The training sessions are held at Lakeside Behavioral Healthcare in partnership with several Orange County agencies, including the Valencia Criminal Justice Institute and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Orlando.