CIT (Crisis Intervention Teams) is a model program designed to improve the outcomes of police interactions with people with mental illnesses.
CIT program is a community collaboration, not just a training program. CIT officers are trained to prevent crises, and to de-escalate a crisis when it occurs. But, CIT is not just training. CIT is only effective when law enforcement, the mental health system and consumer and family advocates collaborate to make sure that when officers divert someone, the treatment system is willing and able to provide appropriate treatment.
CIT works for law enforcement. CIT provides officers tools for responding more safely and compassionately to people with serious mental illness. CIT gives officers options other than arrest and incarceration when they encounter people with mental illness. It improves public safety and reduces officer injuries, while reducing the amount of time officers spend dealing with mental disturbance calls. CIT officers report that they are more satisfied with CIT than with other jail diversion approaches.
CIT works for consumers. CIT improves consumers’ safety: through the use of de-escalation techniques, officers can help prevent a crisis from deteriorating to the point where the use of force is likely. When they encounter a CIT officer, consumers are more likely to be transferred to treatment, to stay out of jails and emergency rooms, and receive treatment in the community.
CIT frees up public resources. By diverting people with serious mental illness from jails, CIT helps ensure that jails are used to incarcerate criminals, not people who require treatment. CIT also saves public resources by preventing people from deteriorating to the point they are incarcerated or require costly emergency services. Finally, CIT saves police time and money by creating an efficient system for transferring people from law enforcement custody to mental health treatment.