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NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties Leader Receives State CIT Award

The 2020 Virtual Speaker Series “All Together Now” sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Florida, kicked off on September 12, 2020 with its first presentation, “A Celebration of NAMI Florida.” During the event, NAMI Florida presented Lt. Charles (Charlie) Kenniff, Board Member of NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties, with the Don and Judy Turnbaugh Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Award. This award recognizes a CIT First Responder (officer or deputy) that demonstrates continuous use of exemplary CIT knowledge and their work highlights their outstanding dedication to the CIT program, CIT Services and advancing CIT as a community success.

Lieutenant Kenniff has been with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office for thirty years and oversees the agency’s Training section. He is the lead facilitator and trainer for CIT for Sarasota County law enforcement, having been involved with CIT for nearly two decades. Charlie serves as a role model for CIT principles including respect for those needing crisis intervention.

Over the years Charlie has worked to sustain and expand CIT and gladly shares his skills with the community outside the Sheriff’s Office, including training School Resource Officers and working with the Health Department. He is a member of Florida CIT Coalition and has presented before the Florida Police Accreditation Coalition on the benefits of CIT and CIT programs.

“Charlie is a kind, upbeat and wonderful advocate for CIT,” said Pat Mahoney, President of NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties. “His perspective is that CIT is not just a class that Law Enforcement Officers need to pass, but one they have to believe in and utilize its principles and core elements. He models its attributes by tying them into his own interactions.”

Lt. Kenniff’s commitment to NAMI began in 2004 and since that time he has been active in every aspect of the affiliate, including serving on the Board of Directors for more than six years. He is a regular presenter of NAMI classes and offers families who have loved ones living with mental illness information on what CIT is and what to expect if families have to call 911 because a family member experiencing a crisis. He is also trained in NAMI’s Ending the Silence program, an education program for middle and high school students to understand the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to get help for themselves or a friend.

NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties is fortunate to have Lt. Kenniff not only on our Board of Directors, but as a tireless advocate for mental health in our community.

For more information about NAMI please visit our website at, email us at or call 941-444-3428.


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