The CMHP has embraced and promoted the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training model developed in Memphis, Tennessee in the late 1980’s. Known as the Memphis Model, the purpose of CIT training is to set a standard of excellence for law enforcement officers with respect to treatment of individuals with mental illnesses. CIT officers perform regular duty assignment as patrol officers, but are also trained to respond to calls involving mental health crises. Officers receive 40 hours of specialized training in psychiatric diagnoses, suicide intervention, substance abuse issues, behavioral de-escalation techniques, the role of the family in the care of a person with mental illness, mental health and substance abuse laws, and local resources for those in crisis.
The training is designed to educate and prepare officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and to respond more effectively and appropriately to individuals in crisis. Because police officers are often first responders to mental health emergencies, it is essential that they know how mental illnesses can impact the behaviors and perceptions of individuals. CIT officers are skilled at de-escalating crises involving people with mental illnesses, while bringing an element of understanding and compassion to these difficult situations. When appropriate, individuals in crisis are assisted in accessing treatment facilities in lieu of being arrested and taken to jail.
The pre-booking diversion program has demonstrated excellent results. To date, CIT training has been provided to approximately 5, 950 officers from 36 of the 38 law enforcement agencies across the county.
As a result of CIT, fewer individuals in acute psychiatric crisis are being arrested and booked into the jail, and more individuals are being linked to crisis care in the community. There has also been a dramatic reduction in fatal shootings and injuries of people with mental illnesses by police officers.