Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training
Pre-arrest jail diversion for those in mental health crisis
Crisis Intervention Team training is a joint effort between Sandhills Center, law enforcement, local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapters, service providers, and the community college system, which offers CIT training in addition to the basic law enforcement curriculum.
CIT trains first responders to understand people who are experiencing mental health, intellectual/developmental disabilities and substance use challenges. They learn skills to de-escalate situations, and how to recognize people in crisis so they can get the help they need. It also teaches tools to encourage people who need treatment to access services.
For the latest information, please visit the CIT Training News Briefs section.
Why is CIT training so important?
Each year about 25,000 people with severe mental illness end up in North Carolina jails. Encounters between these individuals and law enforcement officers can sometimes end tragically. CIT training plays an important role in educating officers to respond appropriately in such situations. Law enforcement and mental health professionals have joined forces throughout the country to establish CIT programs, giving first responders the knowledge and skills needed to de-escalate crisis situations, and emphasize treatment rather than incarceration.
The first CIT program was started in 1988, in Memphis, Tenn., following the police-shooting death of a man with mental illness. Today, its success has inspired communities throughout the country to start CIT programs. In North Carolina, CIT training began in 2005. About 40 percent of the state’s law enforcement population is now trained in CIT, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The latest figures available indicate that 11,170 police officers, sheriff’s deputies, telecommunicators, private security officers, paramedics, emergency medical services personnel and firefighters had received training by the end of 2017.
In the Sandhills Center region, CIT began in 2008. Since then, it has grown exponentially. In total, we have coordinated 53 classes, and graduated more than 1,100 students from nearly three dozen first responder agencies.
CIT training has been proven to help first responders provide safe intervention with people experiencing mental health crises. It is recognized as a best practice by multiple organizations including NAMI, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the White House Conference on Mental Health.
CIT training is a rigorous 40-hour curriculum. It involves classroom lectures, site visits and role playing, among other valuable learning tools. It has these important objectives:
- Trains first responders to safely interact with people experiencing mental health crises.
- Protects the rights of people with mental illness and other brain disorders.
- Improves the likelihood that people with mental illnesses and other brain disorders receive treatment in lieu of incarceration, when appropriate.
- Provides first responders opportunities for meaningful discussions with people who have mental illnesses, intellectual/developmental disabilities or substance use disorders.
Benefits of CIT
CIT programs have positive outcomes for law enforcement and the mental health system. Benefits include:
- Reducing injury rates among officers and people with mental illnesses.
- Reducing criminal justice system costs and the need for additional crisis resources.
- Increasing referral rates while reducing arrest rates among people with mental illnesses.
- Helping to form partnerships in advocacy and educational efforts.
- Improving law enforcement officers’ confidence, attitudes and knowledge about mental illness and community resources.
- Reducing myths and stigma.
- Improving collaboration between law enforcement and agencies.
- Improving officers’ ability to identify people with mental illnesses, therefore providing opportunities for them to get appropriate services at the right time.
- Assuring on-going collaboration with police and community resources.
- Teaching basic medication awareness.
- Allowing face-to-face interactions between first responders, people with mental illness and their families.
- Providing officers and departments recognition and appreciation.
For more information or to request CIT training in your community, please contact Kellie Moran, Justice Systems Clinical Liaison for Sandhills Center — (336) 389-6132.