Meeks, Wolfe honored for crisis intervention efforts
The Virginia Crisis Intervention Team Coalition has honored two local women for their work in public safety.
Waynesboro Police Capt. Becky Meeks was presented with the CIT Coalition’s 2020 Lambert/Ratcliffe Trainer of the Year Award. Staunton emergency dispatcher Jena Wolfe was named the coalition’s 2020 CIT Communications Officer of the Year.
Meeks joined the Waynesboro Police Department in 1990 as a patrol officer, and has served as a DARE officer, crime prevention supervisor, patrol shift commander, detective supervisor and detective division commander.
Meeks has also served as a crisis negotiator and commander of the PD’s hostage negotiations unit.
As one of three Waynesboro officers selected to become involved in the CIT program when it launched in 2009, she attended the basic course in Charlottesville and became one of the program’s first instructors.
Blue Ridge CIT has conducted 37 Basic CIT trainings along with 12 Train the Trainer classes and Meeks has instructed in almost every one.
Meeks has also volunteered to present specialty classes and trainings for dispatchers, EMS, schools, as well as community groups and law enforcement. She has served on several panels discussing CIT topics related to police response to various populations, and just last year was an integral player in a three-part series on CIT for the local NAMI organization.
Wolfe began her career 15 years ago with the Augusta County 911 center before joining the Staunton 911 center in 2018.
In 2014, she became one of the first four dispatchers in the local area to take the 40-hour CIT course and completed the Train the Trainer in December of that year.
Also a member of the Staunton Augusta Rescue Squad, she helped bridge relationships in those days with local EMS partners and advocated for a holistic approach to crisis response in the local community.
In 2015, while still with Augusta County 911, Wolfe was selected as the Blue Ridge CIT and Mental Health America Augusta’s Dispatcher of the Year for her unwavering support and advocacy for the program along with her exceptional CIT skills while on the phone with callers.
On May 22, 2020, the Staunton 911 center received a call from a 21-year-old male who had driven into town from another jurisdiction with the intent of dying by suicide. He had stolen a rifle from a family member and had purchased ammunition shortly before arriving in Staunton. Before he pulled the trigger, he called 911 and his desperate call was answered by Wolfe, who discovered that he was despondent over a recent breakup and had spent the day wording a text message to his friends and family.
Using this hook, she calmed and reassured him that she could get him help, which after initial refusals, he gradually became willing to think about.
Importantly, she was able to determine his vehicle description, exact location, and keep officers updated on his movements and current state of mind. Her goal was to prevent a sudden encounter with one of her officers that might end in “suicide by cop.”
Eventually, Wolfe convinced the young man to put down the rifle and walk away from it, and to safely surrender to officers on the scene. In the end, he was taken into custody, unarmed, and without incident. He was evaluated and subsequently admitted where he received the care he needed.