Sergeant Ryan Hendrick honored as CIT Officer of the Year

Date: May 11, 2018

Ferguson Township Police Sergeant Ryan Hendrick was recognized Wednesday, May 9, as Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer of the Year. CIT Program Coordinator Tracy Small presented the honor to Hendrick at the 13th annual Candlelight Vigil hosted by the Opportunity Centre Clubhouse of Skills of Central Pennsylvania. The vigil brings people together to hear firsthand stories from those who have made a journey to recovery from substance abuse and mental health crises. 

In the seven years that Centre County has had a Crisis Intervention Team Training Program, the CIT Officer of the Year award has been given to three of Ferguson Township’s first responders including Hendrick, who serves as Ferguson Township’s community relations officer. The previous FTPD winners were Travis Park in 2012 and Robert Glenny in 2016. 

Crisis Intervention Team Training prepares first responders how to respond appropriately and compassionately to someone experiencing an emotional crisis. They learn how to effectively calm a person in crisis through verbal de-escalation and by using community resources. 

Small tells how Hendrick responded to a recent incident when someone broke into a house and vandalized it. Hendrick recognized that the man was having a mental health crisis, and was acting not out of malice but out of frustration. Instead of criminalizing his behavior, he took the man to the hospital for appropriate treatment. “He is known for his calm and compassionate presence,” she said.

She also cited Hendrick’s leadership in the community – his participation at school safety programs, in the Out of Darkness Walk that remembers victims of suicide, in the Pennsylvania Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, and at Camp Cadet for Boys -- as factors in his selection for this award.

Among those in attendance at the candlelight vigil was a family whose loved one suffering from mental illness had experienced less than compassionate interactions with law enforcement in another state. The family reached out to Hendrick to let him know how deeply they appreciated the stories of his interactions with people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. Dealings with law enforcement can be frightening not only to the emotionally ill person, but to the family who worries the loved one will be treated like a criminal. 

Learn more about Centre County’s Crisis Intervention Team Program