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 Fall 2017 President's Message

President's message

     As the outgoing president of CIT International and a founding member of this great organization I would like to use this Message to acknowledge those that have been with us on this noble journey.  The idea came after the first CIT National Conference was held in Ohio in 2005.  An Ohio Supreme Court Justice (Eve Stratton) gave half of a $25,000 BJA grant to the organization I belong to (The Ohio Coordinating Center of Excellence) to accomplish this.  We had hoped for 250 people to come and were pleasantly surprised that over 700 people from 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada attended.

     After this successful conference an interested group of individuals got together and organized a CIT National Advisory Board in 2006.  This board included the following: Sam Cochran –TN; Randolph DuPont –TN; Michael S. Woody –OH; Victoria Huber Cochran –VA; Nora Lott-Haynes –GA; Dave Lushbaugh –GA; Mark R. Munetz –OH; Michele Saunders –FL; Jeff Lefton –FL; Donald Turnbaugh –FL; Janet R. Oliva –GA; K. B. Turner –TN; Amy Forsyth-Stephens –VA; Isaac T. Van Patten –VA; Carolyn Rainey; & Wayne Pitts –TN.

By 2007 Jim Dailey – KY & Brad Cobb - TN, joined this group.  In 2008 Joe Mucenski – AZ; Ron Bruno – UT; Suzanne Andriukaitis – IL; Vernon Keenan – GA; Jeffrey Murphy – IL; & Bill Lange – IL; became Advisory Board members.

In 2009 we became CIT International Inc. a 501 C3 non-profit organization (since Canada, Australia and Sweden folks had joined our organization and were coming to our conferences).  Our founding members included Sam Cochran, Randy Dupont, Michael Woody, Michele Saunders, Joe Mucenski, Jim Dailey, Victoria Cochran, Nora Lott-Haynes, Mark Munetz, Jeff Lefton, Donald Turnbaugh, Jeffrey Murphy, Suzanne Andriukaitis, Brad Cobb, Ron Bruno, William Lange, Nick Margiotta - AZ, Vernon Keenan, Thomas Garrity Jr. – NJ;  & Thomas Kirchberg – TN.

    Since then a number of Board members have come and gone due to term limits and other circumstances.  From 2010 to today Board of Directors members have included: Fred Frese – OH; Kyle Shipps – KS; Pat Strode – GA; Michael Compton – NY; Thomas vonHemert – VA; Don Kamin – NY; Kurt Gawrisch – IL; Julie Solomon – KS; Richard Cavanaugh – NJ; Devon Corpus – CA; Darren Ivey – MO; John Wallschlaeger – WI; Amy Watson – IL; & Steve Miccio – NY.

At the end of this year the last two founding members of CIT international will be stepping down due to term limits (excluding Sam Cochran and Randy Dupont who are lifetime members, & Ron Bruno who stepped down for awhile then was re-elected).  

Michele Saunders & myself will be leaving.  I have been the president since our beginnings and Michele has been the vice president for most of that time. Michele has been my “go to” person over the years as she has the business sense and common sense that I unfortunately seem to lack at times.  In looking back, I should have consulted more often than I did with her.  She has been a Godsend in many ways but especially in stepping up to the plate and volunteering to orchestrate our yearly conferences.  If you have attended one of these you will agree.  She has boundless energy and never say’s “no” to reasonable requests.

We now have a Chief Administrative Officer at CIT International.  Julie Solomon was a Board member then competed with others for this new position and was selected.  So far, she has demonstrated boundless energy and we expect her to help us accomplish our goals in these exciting times for CIT International.

Sam Cochran is the glue that holds us together!  He speaks softly yet carries a big stick.  He is chock full of wisdom and sincerity.  I would advise the Board to continue paying close attention when he speaks and even closer attention when he remains silent on issues that come up for discussion!       

In conclusion, I would like to challenge the Board and membership going forward to resist what is popular at the moment and to continue doing what is right! Listen to your HEART because CIT International is all about that!

  Spring 2017 President's Message

President’s Message

     As a retired law enforcement officer (served 1977 – 2002) thinking back to when I was a rookie and assigned to a Field Training Officer (FTO) I vividly remember that when he wanted me to pay close attention to what he was about to say, he would preface his remarks with “Hey, Rookie pay attention to what I am about to tell you!”         On this day he then relayed to me that our Sergeant’s father was also a police officer who had retired a few years back and in retirement he “committed suicide”.  I found this statement interesting but wondered why I needed to pay special attention to this information? My FTO then went on to tell me that when we are dispatched to such calls of this nature and it happens to be a retired police officer, we never title the Incident Report as Suicide!

     Well, that directive took me by surprise, one because it was bordering on making a false statement, and two I could not imagine officer suicides would happen very often. But in my 25 year career I found that it happened more than I thought it would.

Actually out of the 40 Recruits in my Academy Class so far several of them have completed suicide in retirement.  And before I retired, on a couple of occasions supervisors had to be sent to off-duty officers homes to intervene in depressed and possible suicidal situations.

     The point I am getting to is this; because law enforcement officers see the worst in people on almost a daily basis and respond to horrible accidents, shootings, knifings, hangings, beatings etc. and people actually die in their arms it takes an accumulative toll on their own well-being.  Let alone having to use their firearm to take a life, or being sued for doing their job, and most recently being vilified for doing just that in order to protect themselves and the public.


Then along came CIT.  I believe this 40-hr. course not only opened police officers eyes to mental illness issues, but also opened the mental health provider community’s eyes to first responder issues.  Since the CIT course uses quite a few MH Providers to teach the course they got to know the officers in the classroom and started looking at such things as PTSD in law enforcement and suicides among our “Knights in Shining Armor”.

A recent study by researchers showed that a police officer is six times more likely than the general public to complete a suicide.  There has been no study on retired police officers though.  I believe that the number would be much higher in this category.

After the first CIT Class I facilitated within my own department back in 2000 a few weeks later one of the new CIT officers came to me with a problem.  He would not give me a name, and I did not ask, but he told me that a fellow officer that knew he had completed the CIT course was asking him some questions which led the CIT officer to believe this officer was having psychological problems.  I advised my new CIT officer as best I could but it made sense that an officer with problems might confide in another officer he/she trusted.

I am encouraging CIT Coordinators to introduce skills for CIT officers to preliminarily give good advice when approached by other officers deemed to have problems.  Also I am asking for Researchers to study the number of suicides completed by retired police officers in order to find solutions.


Celebrating CIT...since 1988


CIT International aspires to be a leader in promoting safe and humane responses 

to those experiencing a mental health crisis


Promote community collaboration using the CIT Program to assist people living with

 mental illness and/or addiction who are in crisis

CIT International is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

111 S. Highland Street, Box 71, Memphis, TN  38111

1-888-738-CITI (2484)


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