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What Is CIT?













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, individuals in crises, 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 and other first responders take part in a 5-day, 40-hour training program. The program includes mental health and substance use 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 ACI crisis services, or transport the individual to a partnered hospital emergency room.

The mental health system assumes "custody" and provides a "police-friendly" efficient turnaround 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.

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?*
  1. Increases officer/citizen safety

  2. Decreases police liability and litigation

  3. Extends officers' skills

  4. Increases on-scene expertise

  5. Reduces the time officers spend at hospital emergency departments

  6. Increases officer/community confidence

  7. Increases professionalism

  8. Empowers officers to divert person(s) with a mental illness to treatment

  9. Increases cooperation between criminal justice and mental health systems

  10. Establishes responsibility and accountability

  11. Decreases arrest rates

  12. Reduces recidivism


* (See Steadman, Deane, Borum, & Morrisey, 1998; Steadman, Morrisey, Borum, & Deane, 1997)


CIT: The best practice approach to law enforcement crisis response.


How Family and Friends Can Assist CIT Officers
When a Mental Health Crisis Occurs


Mental health crises are extremely stressful for all parties involved. Some preparation before the crisis and some common-sense actions when the CIT officer responds to a crisis will help your friend or loved-one get the care needed as soon as possible.

  • Find out if CIT is part of your police department.

  • When calling for police assistance, ask for a CIT officer.

  • Keep a current list of medications and doctors' names and offer it to the CIT officer when he/she arrives.

  • Meet the CIT officer outside if possible and fully explain the crisis and what you would like to happen.

  • Make the CIT officer(s) aware of anything you know that upsets the person in crisis.

  • Keep all guns out of the home.

  • When the CIT officer arrives, advise them if the person is armed or has access to weapons. Remember, when weapons are involved, police concentrate on the possible threat of violence until it is neutralized.

  • Understand, the CIT officer(s) will probably ask you to wait in an area away from the person in a crisis. Let the officer do his job and only offer assistance if asked.

  • Be prepared to go to the hospital -- but remember all CIT calls do not necessarily mean a trip to the hospital.

  • Get to know your police department. Introduce your family member or friend to the police when they are not in crisis. Call your police department and have CIT officer stop by your house when he/she has time or go to the police station when a CIT officer will be there.

  • Let your family member know the police are there to help.

  • Educate yourself about your family member's or friend's mental illness by requesting information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness


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