Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, developed in Memphis TN, provides a model of specialized law enforcement expertise. Volunteer officers, based in the general patrol division, work in cooperation with the mental health system, consumers, and families. Trained CIT Police officers carry on the normal duties of law enforcement, but switch to a specialist role when a potential mental health-related crisis is identified.
CIT focuses on de-escalation strategies, and redirecting the individual from the criminal justice system to the mental health care system. In turn, the mental health care system assumes "custody" of the individual, and provides directed and non-restrictive accessibility to a full range of health care and social service options.
How Does CIT Work?
Selected/volunteer police officers take part in a 5-day, 40-hour training program. The program includes mental health and substance abuse experts, legal experts, consumer/family advocates, and experienced CIT officers. Once trained CIT officers are in place, high-risk crisis calls are directed to an on-duty CIT officer.
The CIT officer leads a police-based crisis intervention of generalist officers. The CIT officer, employing a de-escalation intervention strategy, may access Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties crisis services, or transport the individual to a partnered hospital emergency room.
The mental health system assumes "custody" and provides a "police-friendly" efficient turn around time for the officer to return to normal patrol duties.
What Is "More Than Just Training"?
Training is more than a "one-shot" deal. Several times a year, officers meet for debriefing meetings and in-service trainings to problem solve tactical issues, discuss different experiences and scenarios they have encountered, and participate in advanced training. This allows officers a chance to reinforce and sharpen their skills, address new problems, and build cohesiveness.
Why Does Our Community Need CIT?
Police are often the first to be called for a crisis situation involving persons with a mental illness. These crisis situations can and have involved officer and citizen injury or deaths in the Tri-County area.
CIT training significantly decreases injuries, death, and community dissent. In turn, persons with a mental illness are diverted to the mental health system and treatment rather than to jail or to return to the streets.
Citizens become more confident in reporting crisis situations and police officers are better prepared to respond safely to those situations. Crisis intervention shifts from lose-lose to win-win.
What are Known Outcomes of CIT? *
Increases officer/citizen safety
Decreases police liability and litigation
Extends officers' skills
Increases on-scene expertise
Reduces the time officers spend at hospital emergency departments
Increases officer/community confidence
Empowers officers to divert person(s) with a mental illness to treatment
Increases cooperation between criminal justice and mental health systems