Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)
The Opelika Police Department (OPD), in partnership with East Alabama Mental Health Center, NAMI East Alabama, the Tuscaloosa Police Department, Auburn University Psychological Services Center, and the State of Alabama CIT Coordinators office, have formed a community Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) designed to strengthen the East Alabama area's response to people in mental crisis.
Over the past year, 14 officers from OPD have been trained and certified in crisis intervention with the help of the organizations listed above. We look forward to the continued partnership with these community resources and the further development of the crisis intervention program in our area.
MEET THE TEAM
Officer Chase Higgins
Training Officer and CIT Coordinator, Opelika Police Department
CIT Statewide Administrative Coordinator
Johnny is currently a mental health officer in Madison County after recently retiring with the Huntsville Police Department after 35 years. He was a hostage negotiator for 14 years and was the CIT Training Coordinator for the department. Johnny has certifications as CIT Coordinator (CIT International), CIT Master instructor through BJA VALOR on CIT International standards. He developed both HPD’s CIT and Mental Health Officer program, with the CIT International “Gold” program certification. Johnny was a previously a board member of NAMI Alabama and currently serves on the CIT ASSIST National Advisory Board (BJA grant to assist 34 agencies with establishing CIT programs through VCPI with partnerships from COPS & CIT International).
As the CIT Statewide Administrative Coordinator Johnny will work closely with the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (APOST) to create a statewide approach to expanding the use of CIT in Alabama.
Lt. Craig Parker
Commander of the Behavioral Health Unit, Tuscaloosa Police Department
Lt. Parker is a graduate of Auburn University with a B.A. in Psychology and a veteran of the USAF. He currently serves as the Commander of the Behavioral Health Unit for the Tuscaloosa Police Department overseeing 33 CIT officers and 4 Community Mental Health Officers. He has been a CIT Instructor since 2020, graduating 120 participants from 26 different agencies. Outside of his official law enforcement duties, he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Tuscaloosa Mental Health Alliance and the West Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, as well as on the Steering Committee for the Southern Behavioral Health and Law Initiative (University of Alabama). He is thrilled to act as a guide to the Opelika area as they begin setting up their own CIT program in East Alabama.
Executive Director, East Alabama Mental Health Center (EAMHC)
Jimmie began his career at the Center providing direct services to individuals living with developmental disabilities and has since spent time serving in various capacities across the Center’s programs and service lines. In addition to further developing mobile crisis teams and crisis staff within the Center, Jimmie’s role will be to ensure that the relationship and communication with our partners at the Opelika Police Department remains open and strong so that together we can serve our community through effectively mitigating and appropriately addressing crisis situations as they arise.
Bronwyn Ramsey, MS, ADC, LPC-S
Clinical Director, East Alabama Mental Health (EAMHC)
Bronwyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and holds a specialty certification in the field of substance abuse counseling. She earned a Master of Science Degree in Community Agency Counseling from Jacksonville State University and has more than 20 years of experience providing clinical mental health and substance abuse services to individuals living in East Alabama. In her current role as Clinical Director of EAMHC, Bronwyn supports the collaborative effort between the Opelika Police Department and EAMHC to enhance mental health crisis response and mental health crisis triage services for our community.
Director, Family and Children’s Services (FCS) a division of East Alabama Mental Health Center
I am an Auburn Native and a proud graduate of Auburn University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Program. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Approved Supervisor through the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. I have worked in different supervisory capacities at FCS since 2006. I am passionate about decreasing the stigma that surrounds mental health and increasing access to quality care for those who are struggling with mental illness/social-emotional difficulties.
Kelley D. Garland, MEd, LPC, AADC
Program Director, Opelika Addiction Center (OAC)
Kelley holds a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Auburn University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) as well as a certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC). She has been providing substance abuse and mental health services to individuals living in East Alabama as therapist at the Opelika Addiction Center since 2017. In her current role as Program Director of the Opelika Addiction Center, Kelley is eager to work collaboratively with the Opelika Police Department and offer her experience and insight regarding substance abuse and mental health treatment to further enhance mental health crises response in East Alabama.
President, NAMI East Alabama
NAMI East Alabama is the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the only national organization that supports families dealing with severe mental illness. Dennis joined NAMI East Alabama over 17 years ago, when his family was in crisis because of the severe mental illness in the family. The support that he received from NAMI members was crucial in helping him through this difficult time, and NAMI’s Family to Family course gave him an understanding of the illness as well as coping skills to better deal with the situations that he was encountering. Over the past two years he has also been a member for the NAMI Alabama Board. He played a role in getting NAMI Alabama to work with the Treatment Advocacy Center to draft revisions to the civil commitment laws, to make it easier for people to get help for family members in crisis. This was successful as HB 70 was recently signed by the Governor. He sees his role as representing the interests of family members of people experiencing severe mental illness.
Facilitator, NAMI Family-to-Family Program
Emilyn is a retired marriage and family therapist who has worked with families and children in Lee, Chambers, Russell, Tallapoosa, and Randolph counties. She is former director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of East Alabama and is the past president of Alabama Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers. She is experienced in working with a multidisciplinary team and in working with legislative funding. She also served as president of the Alabama Marriage and Family Therapy Board. She retired from private practice in 2014. Emilyn is a facilitator for Family-to-Family, a NAMI program for families having a loved one living with a serious mental Illness.
Jordan Burko Macatee, PhD
Assistant Clinical Professor, Auburn University Department of Psychological Sciences
Jordan Burko Macatee, PhD is a licensed psychologist and an assistant clinical professor at Auburn University, where her primary role is in the training and supervision of clinical psychology graduate students and provision of clinical services through the Auburn University Psychological Services Center (AUPSC). Her primary interests are in adult psychopathology, the delivery of evidence-based outpatient treatment, psychological assessment, and training and supervision. Trained as a generalist, Dr. Burko Macatee has worked with a diverse range of clients and presenting concerns within a variety of settings and her experience includes assessment across the lifespan as well as individual and group therapy and intervention with emerging adults and beyond. Dr. Burko Macatee received a Bachelor of Arts from the College of the Holy Cross and a PhD in Counseling and School Psychology from Florida State University. She completed her doctoral internship at the Counseling and Consultation Center at Northern Illinois University.
Dr. Burko Macatee and the AUPSC are committed to supporting the important efforts of the Crisis Intervention Team. Recently, Dr. Burko Macatee provided a training on mental health and mood disorders as part of the Opelika Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team Training. Dr. Burko Macatee and the AUPSC look forward to continuing to partner with the CIT to help educate and support our community.
Nadia Bhuiyan, PhD
Assistant Clinical Professor, Auburn University Psychological Services Center (AUPSC)
Nadia Bhuiyan is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychological at Auburn University. Nadia serves as the Clinic Director for the Auburn University Psychological Services Center, which is the in-house training clinic for master’s and doctoral level graduate students enrolled in the clinical psychology and behavioral analysis programs. Dr. Bhuiyan is a licensed clinical psychologist and provides supervised training in the delivery of evidence-based clinical services for individuals across the lifespan. She specializes in clinical child psychology and has spent the last several years conducting and supervising developmental and psychoeducational assessments, as well as individual and family therapy. In addition to generalized child services, Dr. Bhuiyan has extensive experience with the assessment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Bhuiyan received a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University and a PhD in Clinical & Health Psychology from the University of Florida. After completing an internship in clinical child and pediatric psychology at the University of Florida Health Science Center, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Emory University School of Medicine within the Clinical Assessments and Diagnostics team at Marcus Autism Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The AUPSC is committed to supporting the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) infrastructure and working alongside Opelika Police Department (OPD) and other community entities to support crisis intervention within the East Alabama community. Dr. Bhuiyan recently participated in OPD’s recent Crisis Intervention Team Training to lead a discussion on neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Bhuiyan and the AUPSC look forward to this important partnership to support the CIT infrastructure in the East Alabama community.