On May 15, 2012 nearly 500 community partners in Miami-Dade County came together to learn, recognize achievements and celebrate success at the 11th Annual Mental Health Transformation in Action Conference, Awards Ceremony and Luncheon.
Each year, a portion of the Conference recognizes the efforts of law enforcement Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) for their community leadership and exemplary efforts on behalf of individuals with mental illnesses.
Awards were given in three CIT categories.
Lt. Jeffrey Locke, Miami Police Department who serves as Co-Chair of the CIT Advisory Committee was presented with the Major Sebastian Aguirre CIT Leadership Award for his work to maintain and expand CIT training in the community. The award is named in memory of Major Sebastian Aguirre who was instrumental in fostering the Miami Police Department’s CIT program.
Officer Julian Chica and Officer Joseph Marin, both of the Miami-Dade Police Department received the CIT Life Saving Award.
Officer Melanie Carpio, Hialeah Police Department was named CIT Officer of the Year while Officer Evi Cruz, Hialeah Police Department and Officer Jody Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police Department were selected as finalists.
Officer Carpio’s heroic efforts were described by Ms. Habsi W. Kaba, CIT Coordinator for Miami-Dade County:
On February 23, 2012 police units were dispatched to a home where a man was threatening to kill himself with a firearm. His wife told dispatch operators there were children in the home and the husband was suicidal. Upon arrival, Officer Carpio made contact with the man who was at the front east bedroom window and although other officers arrived on the scene, Officer Carpio was able to immediately establish a rapport and the man would speak only to her.
The man was in obvious mental distress and was acting extremely unstable. Officer Carpio was able to convince him to exit the home where she continued talking with him. The subject admitted he was having suicidal thoughts and stated he was an avid hunter and had many weapons. He also admitted he had been drinking and had ingested Xanax pills.
Officer Carpio was able to put the man at ease and at her urging he agreed to be handcuffed and taken to the hospital. His demeanor and responses throughout the incident were troubling although he had no criminal past and no prior history of mental illness. Numerous firearms and knives were discovered by the police and impounded for safekeeping.
“The facts learned on the scene and the obvious state of resignation and utter despair displayed by this man were a recipe for disaster,” said Kaba, “Officer Carpio’s calming presence and immediate connection with the subject diffused the situation. Her actions on February 23rd were consistent with the highest traditions of professional law enforcement.”
Carpio’s twin sister, Officer Melodie Carpio of the Pembroke Pines Police Department, joined her as she received the award.
Just prior to the end of the conference, Officer Artie Jinete of the Medley Police Department surprised Kaba and Leifman with recognition awards for their dedication to CIT training and public safety.
CIT officers and first responders receive 40 hours of specialized training on the basics of mental illness, mental health services, and de-escalation techniques designed to improve their response to people with mental illness in crisis. Read more about CIT training.