Orange County sergeant honored for helping those dealing with mental health struggles

News 6 anchor Matt Austin hosted Central Florida Crisis Intervention Team banquet

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Officers across Orange County are being recognized for their ability to help people struggling with mental health.

On Friday, News 6 anchor Matt Austin hosted the Central Florida Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) annual awards banquet.

The ceremony honors those who have used exceptional care when encountering people in crisis.

Officers from ten agencies were nominated for the CIT Officer of the Year Award, which was presented to Orange County Corrections Sgt. Sharla Cooley.

News 6 anchor Matt Austin hosted the Central Florida Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) annual awards banquet on Friday. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

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For the past 23 years, Cooley has been pivotal in maintaining care for inmates with mental health needs.

Recently, she used her training to de-escalate a situation involving a woman who was suicidal.

“Just getting down to her level and being able to just communicate with her and getting a connection between me and her, I think that was the best thing that I could have done,” Cooley said.

Organizers of the awards ceremony said Cooley is compassionate and patient with every individual she encounters.

She said she’s honored by the award and hopes it will serve as an inspiration for others.

“You treat people how you want to be treated,” Cooley said. “You have to have compassion and you have to see it through somebody else’s lenses.”

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.