Crisis Intervention Team Training: Core Elements


As stated on the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, "the lack of mental health crisis services across the U.S. has resulted in law enforcement officers serving as first responders to most crises. A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is an innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of these encounters."

CIT Model

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention with community, health care, and advocacy partnerships. The CIT Model was first developed in Memphis and has spread throughout the country. It is known as the “Memphis Model.” CIT provides law enforcement-based crisis intervention training for assisting those individuals with a mental illness, and improves the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members, and citizens within the community.

Memphis Model

According to the University of Memphis CIT Center, "what emerged from this initial task force was the Memphis Police Department Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) that would become known in later years as the Memphis Model. The originators of CIT combined several insights that revolutionized how individuals with mental illness in crisis would be approached by police officers and effectively routed to appropriate mental health care facilities rather than jail.

The CIT pioneers envisioned a team of uniform patrol officers selected for specialized training in basic crisis intervention. The officers would be spread throughout the city on all shifts. These officers would perform the usual duties of uniform patrol officers but would be available for immediate dispatch to mental health crisis scenes. Arriving without delay, CIT officers would be able to de-escalate the crisis, decreasing the likelihood of violence and injury to patients, family members, neighbors and police officers. With assistance from other police officers, the CIT officer would assess the individual in crisis and make the decision whether or not to transport a patient for further evaluation. The receiving facility would offer a single point of entry with referrals to resources such as community mental health services, social services and Veteran's services."

Crisis intervention team Goals:

  1. Improve Officer and Consumer Safety
  2. Redirect Individuals with Mental Illness from the Judicial System to the Health Care System

National CIT Model

Due to the efforts of the Memphis police officers and Crisis Intervention Team, formed a network of over 2700 CIT sites throughout the nation. The success of CIT throughout the nation is a testimony to the grassroots support generated to help those struggling with mental illness and the leadership provided by those determined to make a difference in their community.

CIT Core Elements: Outline

In order for a CIT program to be successful, several critical core elements should be present. These core elements are central to the success of the program’s goals.

Ongoing Elements

Partnerships: Law Enforcement, Advocacy, Mental Health

  • Law Enforcement Community
  • Advocacy Community
  • Mental Health Community

Community Ownership: Planning, Implementation & Networking

  • Planning Groups
  • Implementation
  • Networking

Policies and Procedures

  • CIT Training
  • Law Enforcement Policies and Procedures
  • Mental Health Emergency Policies and Procedures

Operational Elements

CIT: Officer, Dispatcher, Coordinator

  • CIT Officer
  • Dispatch
  • CIT Law Enforcement Coordinator
  • Mental Health Coordinator
  • Advocacy Coordinator
  • Program Coordinator (Multi-jurisdictional)

Curriculum: CIT Training

  • Patrol Officer: 40-Hour Comprehensive Training
  • Dispatch Training

Mental Health Receiving Facility: Emergency Services

  • Specialized Mental Health Emergency Care

Sustaining Elements

Evaluation and Research

  • Program Evaluation Issues
  • Development Research Issues

In-Service Training

  • Extended and Advanced Training

Recognition and Honors

  • Examples

Outreach: Developing CIT in Other Communities

  • Outreach Efforts

CIT Benefits

Crisis Intervention training provides a lot of benefits to first responders and the communities that they serve. Examples of some of the benefits of CIT training are:

  • Reduced arrest of people with mental illness.
  • Improves officers attitude and knowledge about mental illness.
  • Increased likelihood that individuals will receive mental health services.
  • Provides police officers with more tools to do their job safely and effectively.
  • Allows law enforcement personnel to focus on crime.
  • Produces cost savings for police departments and their cities.
  • Reduction in officer injuries while responding to mental health crisis calls.

Additional CIT Resources:

  1. Police Crisis Intervention Training Handbook
  2. Training Police as Specialist in Family Crisis Intervention
  3. Crisis Intervention Team Training for Police Officers Responding to Mental Disturbance Calls
  4. Crisis intervention team training: Changes in knowledge, attitudes, and stigma related to schizophrenia
  5. Crisis intervention: A handbook for practice and research
  6. The community crisis response team training manual

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