CHESTERTOWN — The town’s police department led by Chief Ronald Dixon has been recognized by Mid Shore Behavioral Health for an increase in Crisis Intervention Team certifications during 2021-22.

This was done June 8 during the 24th annual Caliber Awards celebration, which was held this year at Minary’s Dream Alliance on Legion Road, Chestertown.

CIT is a 40-hour course that helps members of public safety better understand and address emotional, behavioral and mental health emergencies in the field, Dixon said in an email to Chestertown Mayor David Foster, council members Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, and Town Manager Bill Ingersoll.

In the email, Dixon told the town officials that he has been a longtime proponent and supporter of these efforts.

He said he was able to get an additional four officers through the course in late February.

“We currently have 2 officers that do not have the training, but rest assured they will receive it as soon as practical,” Dixon wrote in the email, a copy of which was sent to the Kent County News.

Dixon told the mayor and council that the CPD has an 89% certification rate that will likely be 100% by the end of 2022.

“It is a valuable tool for law enforcement, as it reduces possible physical confrontation and builds a bond with community members in need,” he said in the email.

He thanked the mayor and council for supporting the training.

The Caliber Awards honor the exceptional work and dedication of dozens of community leaders working to enhance the region’s behavioral health system, according to a news release.

This year marks MSBH’s 30th year of service to the Mid-Shore community.

About 100 people attended the June 8 ceremony, which opened with a welcome from MSBH’s Executive Director Kathryn Dilley, LCSW-C.

Board President Susan Johnson, RN, MPH, recognized new and departing MSBH board and Regional Behavioral Health Advisory Committee members.

Following opening remarks, 33 local leaders were honored for their unwavering commitment to enhancing behavioral health services for the community’s benefit.

Among the Unsung Hero honorees for their work bettering the Mid-Shore region’s behavioral health and well-being were Truancy Reduction Program Manager Tammie Leonard; Minary’s Dream Alliance and Club FEAR Program Director Paul Tue; and Grace Wright, LMSW, counselor with Eastern Shore Psychological Services.

CPD Chief Dixon was among the law enforcement professionals who received recognition for their participation in the region’s Crisis Intervention Training, which is a program that teaches officers how to respond to mental health emergency calls in the most effective way possible.

Doncella Wilson, co-founder (with Tue) of Minary’s Dream Alliance, received an Achieving Excellence through Effective Programming Award for enhancing the lives of children and families through the Adolescent Clubhouse model.

The Achieving Excellence through Interagency and Community Collaboration Award was presented to Marco Belperio, PRP Professional with Eastern Shore Psychological Services, and Staci Cook, Cecil County Local Care Team Coordinator.

The ceremony drew to a close with John Plaskon, former executive director of Crossroads Community Inc. and Corsica River Mental Health Services, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. He was recognized for his 33-year career on the Eastern Shore committed to behavioral health improvement.

“This year’s Caliber was an absolutely wonderful event! Celebrating MSBH’s 30th anniversary as an organization on a day of recognition of our community and provider network was a gift,” Executive Director Dilley said in a news release.

“The Caliber Awards are a great opportunity to gather and celebrate with a group of individuals that represent leadership, unconditional investment in serving the community, and a true desire to promote wellness and access to behavioral health services in the region.”

Dilley thanked Minary’s Dream Alliance for being the host.

In the news release, she said: “Doncella Wilson and her team graciously welcomed Mid Shore Behavioral Health Inc. to join and celebrate at their organization. The experience of gathering and celebrating at this location was a tribute to the expansion of new services in the region and recognition of the amazing contributions to the community that providers continue to support.”

Mid Shore Behavioral Health is the region’s Core Service Agency charged with continually improving the provision of behavioral health services for residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties through effective coordination of care in collaboration with consumers, their natural support systems, providers and the community at large.

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