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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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:
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