Four Boonville Police officers were recognized during Monday’s city council meeting. Lt. Randall Ayers, Sgt. Chris Studley, Sgt. Ben Burch and Sgt. Larry Roberts received certificates of appreciation from representatives of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, (NAMI) Boonville affiliate, for successful completion of CIT training. CIT is a 40-hour program that teaches law enforcement officers and emergency personnel how to respond and de-escalate crisis calls involving persons living with mental illness.

“Tonight we wanted to take a minute to recognize four Boonville Police Officers for their commitment to ensuring Boonville is a safe community for persons living with mental illness. We applaud their dedication and their willingness to serve the citizens of Boonville in this most important way,” said NAMI Boonville President, Jack Bell.

In his remarks to the Council, Bell stressed the need for CIT officers in the face of rising suicide rates and bed shortages for psychiatric care across the state. "As you may know, often law enforcement is our first line of defense, especially for those living with the most serious brain diseases like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and dementia.”

Citizens can ask for a CIT officer when they call 911.

Boonville Police Chief Bob Welliver said, “Our department is committed to CIT and hope to eventually train all of our officers."

In an effort to support a more established CIT program in Cooper County, NAMI Boonville has offered two scholarships, one for a city officer and one for a county officer, to attend the annual Missouri CIT Conference in the spring. If you would like to learn more about CIT, including how and where it is being implemented around the state, please visit MissouriCIT.org.

NAMI is a national organization that provides free education and support groups for families and consumers living with mental illness. Signature programs include “NAMI Basics," for parents and caretakers of children living with mental illness; “NAMI Family to Family,” for family members of adults living with mental illness; “NAMI Homefront,” for families of soldiers living with PTSD; as well as a number of consumer programs to encourage wellness and recovery. These programs are all taught by certified teachers with lived experience, using curricula recognized by SAMHSA for best practices. (SAMHSA = Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to behavioral health)

The NAMI Boonville support group meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church, 6:30 p.m. For more information about NAMI Boonville, contact Jack Bell, 660.537.8811.